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University name: Board of Regents reports to government, makes recommendation

Ref. No. 142

DATE:     May 29, 2002
SUBJECT:     University name: Board of Regents reports to government, makes recommendation

The Board of Regents of Memorial University of Newfoundland has recommended to the provincial government that the name of the university be shortened to Memorial University.

The university's name is defined by an act of the legislature and the provincial government had asked the Board to provide advice on the future of the university's name in light of the change of the province's official name to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The recommendation is contained in a letter from Edward Roberts, chairman of the Board of Regents, to Sandra Kelly, Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

Late last year the Board struck an ad hoc committee that included representatives of students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Board that subsequently engaged in two rounds of extensive public consultation on the issue.

In the first round, concluded in February, the committee received 75 submissions, with most supporting the shortened name. Those results were made public prior to a second round of public consultation.

In the second round, a number of campaigns were organized by private individuals that supported either retaining the current name or lengthening the name to include Labrador.

"This became a more complex task as we went along because groups with positions that were polar opposites formed to lobby the Board," said Mr. Roberts. "For example, one group was adamant that the name be retained as Memorial University of Newfoundland and nothing else would suffice. Another group was equally adamant that retaining the status quo was not an option as it would be a disservice to Labrador.

"But we listened to all the advocates for every position and used their input in making this decision. In the end the Board is recommending a name -- Memorial University -- which was the first choice of most and the second choice of most of the rest."

The chairman said the shortened name retains the recognition of the university as a living war memorial. "The university was founded in 1925 as Memorial University College to honour those who served in the First World War," he said. "We retained that recognition in 1949 when the name was changed to Memorial University of Newfoundland - so this isn't the first time the name of the institution has been changed. We retain that important distinction with this change, as well.

"The one thing we were determined to do in this process and which we pledged to the Royal Canadian Legion, among others, was to ensure that the name would continue to include the word `memorial'," he said.

As for the unofficial acronym, MUN, Mr. Roberts said that people will choose whatever shortened form with which they are most comfortable. "The place has only been known colloquially as MUN since the 1950s," he said. "Before that, when it was Memorial University College people may have used some other acronym. I suspect if government chooses to make this change, some people will continue to call it MUN, or some other acronym might develop over time, but those things are not part of official nomenclature. They develop more informally."

Now that the Board of Regents has made its recommendation, Mr. Roberts said it will be up to the government to decide how to proceed.


For further information, please call:

Peter Morris
Associate Director
Division of University Relations
709-687-9239 (cell)


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