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Forget “Williams” — How About “Purple Vista College”?

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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#1 Comment By (d)avid On August 11, 2005 @ 10:52 am

William and Mary Jane. If we’re gonna be mistaken for William and Mary, why not top the name?

But if we’re talking name changes, why not use the name change to bolster the ol’ endowment? General Electric College has a ring to it. Not sure how far we want to push it. Casino.com College might be okay, but Levitra College is a non-starter.

#2 Comment By Aidan On August 11, 2005 @ 11:00 am

You don’t need to rebrand if you aren’t a TTT. You don’t need to rebrand if you have “1793” on your school seal.

that is all.

#3 Comment By sean ’87 On August 11, 2005 @ 1:35 pm

The “problem” with “Williams College”, “Williams” is a fairly common name. At least our name is actually tied to the founder. “Amherst” was an English Lord, but he had nothing to do with the founding of the college. But in marketing, “English works”. Amherst are known as the “Lord/Lady Jeffs”, portraits of the Amherst family are in the Amherst art museum, and some Lord Amherst’s have even received honorary degrees. We’re still better! Colonial American, home grown, native!

#4 Comment By Jeff Zeeman On August 11, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

Speaking of Lord Jeffrey, if the NCAA is banning Native American sports team names, shouldn’t they also ban the Lord Jeff, given that he purposefully distributed small pox infected blankets to the natives? At least our mascot is far more politicall correct, being an Indian Killee as opposed to an Indian Killer.

#5 Comment By Jared ’96 On August 11, 2005 @ 2:12 pm

Whatever our new name is, it needs to be conducive to snappy abbreviation: U-Penn, NYU, UVa, etc. “WC” just doesn’t cut it, though it may amuse Europeans.

#6 Comment By Caleph On August 11, 2005 @ 3:06 pm

Let’s carry the makeover a bit further, and go from private to public status. Granted, this may seem like an extreme move, but it would allow the school to claim the name of “Bucolic State”.

#7 Comment By (d)avid On August 11, 2005 @ 3:47 pm

Hey guys, Aidan might have a point. Maybe we don’t NEED to rebrand Williams. I think we’re wasting our time.

#8 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On August 11, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

I like Bucolic State. But then the snappy abbreviation would be BS….

Yeah, maybe we should just leave it at “Williams” and rebrand the buildings. After all, it doesn’t always have to be to entice students; it can also be done to keep spouses happy. Chapin Hall used to be called Grace Hall, named after Mr. Chapin’s first wife. But when he remarried, wife #2 didn’t take too kindly to that, so they got out the sandblasting gear and changed it to Chapin Hall.

#9 Comment By Caleph On August 11, 2005 @ 5:42 pm

What’s wrong with an abbreviation like BS ? Doesn’t seem to bother Ball State or Boise State.

If we stick with the current name, we could drop the distinctly non-sexy “WC” abbreviation and replace it with the hipper “WilCo”. This would also have the advantage of linking the school to progressive country music, which is obviously appropriate for a progressive country school. A quick Web check has confirmed that Wilco is already an accepted component of WCFM playlists.

#10 Comment By Anonymous On August 11, 2005 @ 10:26 pm

No Moore College

#11 Comment By LS On August 12, 2005 @ 9:54 pm

Purple Vista College would then be shortened to PVC…and in a tie-in w/ either Home Depot, Lowes, or the local Aubuchon Hardware, the mascot could be a plumber…think of it…the PVC Plumbers…what a mascot to have running around the various athletic events….pants low, paunch hanging over the belt, butt-crack….not to demean plumbers as most make more than I do.

#12 Comment By Josh Ain On August 15, 2005 @ 8:58 am

Purple Vista College could also forge a strategic relationship with Berkshire Vista, giving our image a real makeover.

#13 Comment By (d)avid On August 15, 2005 @ 9:38 am

Mr. Ain, that is hilarious. One wonders how you found it, but it is definitely apropos of the discussion. This post might be my favorite on Ephblog in a long while. Well done, Guy.