Gubernatorial candidates support university name change

Sunday, August 15, 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Despite concerns from Columbia lawmakers, gubernatorial candidates Claire McCaskill and Matt Blunt say they support changing the name of Southwest Missouri State University.

The Springfield school wants to become Missouri State University, saying a new name would be more fitting because it's the state's second-largest university and draws students from all over Missouri.

Opponents say there shouldn't be two statewide universities battling for limited resources, and that Southwest Missouri State should join the University of Missouri system if it wants to be more than a regional school.

The name-change issue has failed in the legislature in the past.

Blunt, the Republican secretary of state, told the Columbia Tribune the change would reflect "what the institution already is." Blunt is from Springfield, where lawmakers and Southwest Missouri State University officials support the new name.

McCaskill, the Democratic state auditor, earned a bachelor's degree in political science and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She told the newspaper she knows a lot of people "that went to school with me and care very much about the name, but it's just a name. I just don't think it's anything to get that excited about," she said.

Though Rep. Chuck Graham was surprised by McCaskill's stance on the issue, he said he wouldn't be surprised to see the name change come up again. Graham, D-Columbia, reiterated his desire that University of Missouri officials protect the name that once was used to refer to the Columbia institution.

"I think the only way to prevent it from coming back up," Graham said, "is for the university to do the best job they can of legally protecting it."

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