What's in a Name? Mesa State Looking into Name Change

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - What's in a name? More than you might think, says Mesa State College. The school is currently taking input from students, alumni, and more as it gets serious about changing its name.

Between the new buildings, new programs and graduate courses, and the spike in students, Mesa State College has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. As school leaders try to sustain that growth, they say Mesa State's name may be hurting them.

"What we found out was in Colorado, we had a brand awareness in the 90 plus percent," said Rick Taggart, Executive Director of Marketing and Recruitment for Mesa State College. "But as soon as we went outside of Colorado, it dropped into the teens and single digits."

The college recently took a survey of perspective students in the southwest and learned 75 percent of them had no clue where Mesa State was.

"They thought we were in Arizona or another state," said Taggart. "Colorado was actually second to all the southwestern states, so that was concerning."

Additionally, the college looked at 79 other schools across the country it competes with for students. 74 of them had university in their name.

"It makes you take a step back and say if those competitors are there, should we be considering that?" said Taggart.

That's just what they're asking students, alumni, faculty, and more in a new online survey.

"I like Mesa State," said Mesa State freshman Stefanie Mraule. "I think it has a good ring to it."

Mraule says she likes the idea of going to a university, but isn't quite sure how she'd feel about going to a school not called Mesa State.

"I've been hearing rumors that it's going to be like Western Slope something University," said Mraule. "I don't really like it. I like Mesa State."

Others say they're all for it.

"There is so much more prestige associated with a university," wrote Jessica Miller in a post to the KKCO NBC 11 News facebook page. "The University of Western Colorado makes more sense and helps out-of-state students identify with the location."

Whatever the final decision may be, the college says some things are better left unchanged.

"The Maverick remains," said Taggart. "There is absolutely no change there. But that does play into the name because Maverick is going to fit with some names better than it's going to fit with others."

Officials say the school colors will also be unaffected by any name change.

The school will use the input from the survey to make a recommendation to their Board of Trustees on whether they should move forward with a name change.

Officials say they have a list of about 50 to 60 potential names. If the board gives them the go ahead to move forward, they plan to release that list and see which names get the best response.

Any name change would ultimately have to be approved by the Colorado General Assembly.

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