Hands off UMBC’s name

April 14, 2010

I disagree with your assessment that the University of Maryland, Baltimore County needs a name change ("The checkmate club," April 13) for one simple reason: brand identity. The goal of any entity that provides a product or service is to differentiate itself from the competition. Universities and colleges are no different and each strives to develop an academic uniqueness that can be identified with that institution.

Many years ago, at a time when UMBC was an unknown college often considered a second rate institution relative to the state's so-called flagship university, the faculty and staff at UMBC considered those very name changes that you suggest, MIT (Maryland Institute of Technology) and MSU (Maryland State University). However, they decided, and wisely so, that this would be a cheap attempt to use a moniker to impart prestige to the institution rather than actually having the substance to back up a reputation.

Under the leadership of President Hrabowski, UMBC took the bold step of actually building substance behind the uniqueness of UMBC, not some cheap marketing trick. When I travel the country and meet with other leaders in academia and business, UMBC is no longer an unknown institution. It is not identified as an MIT nor an MSU, but as UMBC, a world class university in its own right.

Most don't know what the BC stands for, but they do know what is really important: That UMBC is a university with high caliber research faculty and stellar students, is located in Maryland and is one of this nation's rising academic stars. UMBC has brand identity, its own brand identity: UMBC.

Sheldon E. Broedel Jr., Baltimore

The writer is an alumnus and an adjunct faculty member at UMBC.

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