McDaniel College, as Western Maryland College will be known after July 1, is a name people seem to either love or hate.
The change, announced Friday night, was a major topic of conversation on campus and in Westminster during the weekend.
One local merchant said yesterday that he wasn't sold on the name McDaniel College.
"A long time ago the college was named for the railroad. It's part of our culture," said Eric A. Masters, who runs the Fun-E-Nuf Antiques and Collectibles store on Westminster's Main Street with Cathy Connelly. "McDaniel reminds me of McDonald's. Do people want a fast food education? People are already making fun of the school."
Some students interviewed on campus yesterday were among the most critical. "I think it's cheesy," said Nicholas Venuto, a sophomore from Toms River, N.J. "They should've come up with a better name, something closer to WMC."
Christine M. Mayne of Ocean City, N.J., added, "I already associate McDaniel with a residence hall. Now to name the entire college after it? It loses all its meaning. I'm going to keep calling it Western Maryland."
One student intends to transfer to another school after the fall semester. "They lied to us. None of the reasons they gave us for changing the name are valid with the new name," said freshman Valerie J. Minne, 19.
Departing senior Lauren M. Cernak of Bel Air, a member of the field hockey team, said, "McDaniel Green Terror just doesn't flow."
Among the students who liked the change was sophomore Matthew S. McGowan of Trenton, N.J., who said his mother worked for the College of New Jersey, which changed its name from Trenton State College. "They had good results. Now they're one of the most exclusive schools in the state in terms of admissions. I think McDaniel is fine. I think the change will be positive for the school, but you're never going to get a group of current students who are going to be for it," he said.
Some city natives embraced the new name.
"I had no idea of the history of the man, that he made such a contribution to college. It's further educated me on the history and mission of the school," said Councilwoman Suzanne P. Albert, who earned a master's of science degree from the school in 1987.
William R. McDaniel was a ubiquitous presence at the college from his years as a student in the 1870s until his death in 1942. In a 65-year relationship with the school, he wore nearly every hat one could wear at an institution of higher learning - professor, vice president, acting president, treasurer and trustee.
The two-fold desire for a new name was to quash any association as a state school and to end confusion about its location since it is in Central Maryland and not Western Maryland.
Some alumni who have been opposed to a change from the beginning don't think the new name will do the trick. "I don't think it's going to solve the problems that they had with the name Western Maryland. It may create even more, now that Maryland isn't even in the name anymore," said Cindi Bair Pearson, a 1993 graduate who started an online petition for the Coalition to Preserve the Name of Western Maryland College in January. More than 1,600 electronic signatures are attached to the protest.
As president and chief executive officer of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, Bonnie Grady hasn't surveyed the chamber's board of directors for a reaction to the new name. But as a 1991 alumna of the school, she had a personal opinion.
"If we trusted our college with our education, we should be able to trust them with this business decision," Grady said. "McDaniel is a perfect name due to his history with the college. It has real merit, a good solid choice we'll all come to love as much as we love the institution."