Geez, Williams is missing the boat. According to an article in today’s New York Times, colleges are renaming (oops, the buzzword is “rebranding”) themselves to court students. Beaver College became Arcadia University; Trenton State College became the College of New Jersey; Western Maryland College became McDaniel College; California State University, Hayward, became California State University, East Bay. The article says that, due to the rebranding, applications and student qualifications are up. In Arcadia University’s case, applications have doubled in just four years.

At this point, Williams has an acceptance rate of 18.8%; we could probably drive that down to 15% or even 12% if the college adopted a catchy new name. I mean, “Williams College” — how mundane can you get?

My suggestion is “Purple Vista College.” “Purple” bows to the college’s history, while also leveraging the mechanism of color references used by popular sports teams (e.g., the Boston Red Sox). “Vista” shows that the college is up-to-date, with a nod to Microsoft’s forthcoming operating system (code-named Longhorn, now called Vista) as well as referring to Williams’ Climb Far capital campaign. (Get it? — you Climb Far to reach a Vista.)

In fact, to enable frequent rebranding, the college could adopt a “Purple [blank]” format, with Purple remaining the same and [blank] changing according to the times. For example, when I attended Williams in the early 70s, it could have been called “Purple Haze.” Marijuana was easy to get, and if you were really cheap you could get high without buying any pot whatsoever. All you had to do was visit a certain smoke-laden fourth floor suite in Pratt, and after shooting the breeze for 20 minutes you’d be high for half a day.

So what are your suggestions? If not Purple Vista College, what other new name works? Although Williams takes great pride in being a leader in higher education, it’s clear that we’ll be playing catch up in this case. Only with the help of Ephblog readers can we avert this crisis of the mundane name.

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