OREM — What's in a name?
Apparently, a lot at Utah Valley State College, which is taking baby steps away from its current name.
UVSC has dropped the word "College" — or the last letter "C" — from its abbreviated name on several campus signs and athletic-program publications.
So has the school launched a campaign for it to be known in the community as Utah Valley State, Utah Valley or just UV?
The scoreboard at the school's new baseball stadium says "Utah Valley State."
An electronic sign in the Sorensen Student Center that advertises activities around campus alternates "UVSC" with "UV."
Items for sale in the school gift shop don't use the word "college."
Administrators insist the monikers without the "C" are just nicknames — like "Utah State" for Utah State University or "Weber State" for Weber State University — and want people to refer to the school by its full name on first reference.
"We use a variety of names in our signage, logos. . . . The UV is a common way to abbreviate the college name if space is an issue," said UVSC President William Sederburg in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News.
"We do use Utah Valley State from time to time. What got the attention of the press was when we needed to replace College on one of our signs on 400 (West) we didn't replace it — just left Utah Valley State. The other part of the sign has UVSC."
Still, it appears the school chief is looking toward the day when "college" won't be part of its name.
"In my opinion, there is little doubt that UVSC will move to university status at some point in time," Sederburg said. "However, if that happens, the name will need to be approved by the Board of Regents. Right now, we use UVS as a shorter way to refer to us, although Utah Valley State College remains the official name."
The name would change, obviously, if the school was granted university status.
The school's next step likely hinges on the results of a study that will start in November.
A three-person team of education consultants has been asked to begin researching the feasibility of turning UVSC into a university.
A report on the issue already has been done by a consultant hired by UVSC.
Sederburg, who was a college president in Michigan prior to arriving at UVSC, hired Michigan education consultant James Phelps to examine the possibility of the college becoming a university. For his study, Phelps interviewed students, professors, community members and state officials.
In the report, Phelps said he encountered what he described as a "change" in the attitudes of commissioners — from dictating school missions to allowing schools more control in determining their roles in their communities.
And in the report he refers to the school only as UVS — never as UVSC.
"Rather than state bureaucratic control, now UVS must exercise self-control," according to the report, which was obtained by the Deseret Morning News.
UVSC's transition into a university will require a successful public perception campaign, according to Phelps' report.
UVSC started as a trade school and later became a junior college. It became a college that is accredited to offer four-year degrees about 10 years ago — yet some people continue to think of UVSC as it was in the past, Phelps said in his study.
College officials admit they've moved away from the word "college" on media guides and other written materials about athletics.
They considered UVS or UV after the school's team moved into NCAA Division I in 2003.
"Athletics has found that when on the road, the other institutions drop 'college' or change it to 'university' on their own," said college spokesman Derek Hall.
More specifically, Phelps wrote that UVSC has difficulty scheduling games because some universities do not want to "'play-down' to the level of 'colleges.' "
"In at least one case, the name on the program and scoreboard was changed to 'Utah Valley University' to disabuse the notion they were playing a 'cupcake,' " Phelps wrote.
If size matters, then UVSC has a good argument for becoming a university.
The college continues to grow — and it's bigger than some other Utah universities.
Enrollment for fall semester, according to college officials, is 24,488 students. That's up from 24,149 students last year.
In 2003-2004, the number of UVSC students enrolled full time only fell behind the University of Utah and Utah State University.