It's official: School is simply Towson U Transformation: In a fitting fete of confetti, the university celebrates its new name and image.

September 12, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Maybe this time Towson University will get it right.

After 131 years and four other names -- beginning with the forgettable State Normal School -- officials formally introduced the latest name yesterday amid showers of confetti, cascades of balloons and the dramatic unfurling of a new logo.

But some, like former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, addressed the fuss sardonically.

"Why you want to change your name I don't know," he said in videotaped remarks, drawing out the new name, "Tooowwwsonnnn Uuuuniversity."

With the theme "Towson Transformed," more than 2,000 students, professors and staff members crammed into the Towson Center on campus ready to celebrate. Cheerleaders, the university band and speakers pumped up the crowd.

Joanne Glasser, vice president for institutional advancement, told the group, "This is a day we have all been waiting for. Why a party? The signifi- cance is we want to celebrate our new, exciting, dynamic logo before it's unveiled to the rest of the world."

Like a New Year's Eve countdown, excitement grew while the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" introduced the university's new signature look -- two simple, abstract brush strokes anchored in the word "Towson" with "University" in smaller letters. Black, gold and white remain the school colors.

Some dissenters

Still, there were holdouts to the frenzy of school spirit.

Senior Micah Maryn, 24, proudly wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with the old name -- Towson State University.

"I didn't like the name change," he said. "I understand they're changing it for the image. But the name isn't the issue that needs to be changed. Adding more money to departments would help."

Most people were more accepting.

"We've been through five name changes. At first, I was not pleased," university librarian Ada Woods said. "But probably it is a good thing. It seems more academic."

Since 1866, the school has been known as State Normal School, State Teachers College at Towson, Towson State College and Towson State University.

University President Hoke L. Smith, who was unable to attend yesterday afternoon's gala because of recent bypass surgery, initiated dropping "state" from the name more than a year ago to boost the university's image.

Image change

Smith says the name change is needed now that tuition and fees play a larger role in funding university expenses.

The "state" name, which implied that the school was fully financed by Maryland, could hamstring fund-raising campaigns, he says.

The new name took effect July 1, but university officials waited until students were back on campus to celebrate.

In a videotaped message yesterday, Smith said, "The name change recognizes substantial changes and a transformation in the university. It will enhance our reputation regionally and nationally."

Sophomore Delia Green, 19, agrees.

"It's great. It shows we're moving up," said Green, a recent transfer student from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. "I went to a small, expensive university, and Towson offers more. Ev- erything is better."

Sophomore Krista White, 19, said she discovered a new school allegiance yesterday.

"I really didn't think the name was a big deal," she said.

"But after listening to the president of the school -- I don't remember his name -- I realized it's important," White said.

Even freshmen, who haven't known anything else, like the new name.

"It gives more prestige on a resume. It won't be just a state college," said Jessica Gold, 18.

Or, as university provost John D. Haeger told the crowd, "We're no longer Baltimore's best-kept secret."

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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