Mississippi University for Women pauses name change for third time in 2024. See the latest (2024)

Officials at Mississippi University for Women can't seem to make up their minds.

After holding a ceremony on Feb. 13 to announce a new name, Wynbridge State University, there are published reports that MUW, which has struggled with its identity in recent years, is again pausing its attempt to change its name.

"In order give our entire community time to regroup and consider all perspectives, we will take a strategic pause at this time as we continue to work toward a future name change," MUW President Nora Miller said in a Wednesday, Feb. 21 letter to alumni.

Search for a new name

In early January, university officials put out a press release announcing that they were considering changing the school's name to Mississippi Brightwell University.

What's in a name?What is The W's new name now? Whatever it is, it will still be 'The W'

How long will this go on?Will MUW proceed with new name, Mississippi Brightwell University? Time will tell

The university has been in search for a new name for more than 20 years to more accurately reflect the demographics of the school.

MUW officials said that more than 4,300 people participated in a survey about a name change. This included alumni, university faculty and staff, enrolled and prospective students and community citizens.

Mississippi University for Women pauses name change for third time in 2024. See the latest (2)

The backlash

After significant backlash on social media, the 2,000-student public school in Columbus broadened its effort to include more names for consideration.

Then came the announcement last week to re-name the school Wynbridge State University of Mississippi.

After the Jan. 9 release of the Brightwell name and subsequent backlash, the university then sent out an email to students and alumni, saying, "the Naming Taskforce has been working hand-in-hand with our communications agency Chernoff Newman to find a name that will allow us to continue to use The W branding. In keeping with our desire to hear from many constituencies, we are asking for feedback and suggestions from alumni, faculty, staff, and students."

3 names

After reviewing the suggestions, three names were presented for consideration by Chernoff Newman:

  • Wynbridge:The first part of Wynbridge comes from the Old English word for the letter W. Wyn was paired with bridge, which "connects the past to the future, our alums to our students, and our campus to our community."
  • Welbright:The first part of Welbright comes from the idea of wellness, "which represents our supportive environment that promotes the well-roundedness of our students."
  • Wynbright:The first part of Wynbright comes from the Old English word for the letter W. "Traditionally each graduation ceremony begins with a reminder of the historic purpose of the University, to 'study for light to bless with light.'"

What alumni think

One MUW alum, Marie Harris of Gulfport suggests getting rid of the search process.

Mississippi University for Women pauses name change for third time in 2024. See the latest (3)

"What to rename Mississippi's excellent university in Columbus? Just name it The "W," Harris said. "Make it official. It's unique. It's what we alums call it anyway. Whether it's The W or The "W" or "The W" ... let the only disagreement be where to put the quotation marks. And when out-of-staters ask us what the W stands for, we can say We the People ... or We Are Amazing ... or We Can Be Whatever We Want to Be!"

Another alum, Mary Thomas Watts, who graduated from the school when it was known as Mississippi State College for Women more than 50 years ago, says she believes there is an honest effort to make a good decision.

"College students need something different than they did when I was in school," said Watts, who now lives in Ohio. "I was not against the Wynbridge name. To me, it spoke to me more than the Brightwell name. With meaning for Wynbridge being a bridge between the past and present. I think they made a good case for that. I guess we will just wait for the next announcement. Ultimately, I have such great respect for the institution and gratitude for the education I received from there. I just want to see it grow and prosper. If a new name can make that happen, I am for it."

However, the Mississippi Legislature will ultimately decide the matter, requiring an actual bill that includes the university’s new name to be passed and signed by Gov. Tate Reeves.

MUW fans who’d still like to comment on the matter or suggest a new name have that opportunity atNameChange@muw.edu.

Here is acomplete list of the namesthat have been considered to this point.

Ross Reilycan be reached by email at rreily@gannett.com or 601-573-2952. You can follow him on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter @GreenOkra1.

Mississippi University for Women pauses name change for third time in 2024. See the latest (2024)
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