What’s still wrong with USF Lakeland? (repeat)

(We’re on hiatus this week. Since the USF Lakeland name change was in the news, I thought you’d be interested in this post, originally published March 22, 2007. It was the first public reporting of the USFL name change. You’ll notice the early version of the name was USF Polytech, but on Friday the USFL board voted for USF Polytechnic. I wonder which version the full USF board will choose? I’m disappointed that Lakeland’s leaders didn’t express a desire to save the name. However, I see the official line is now that “Lakeland” will still be on the address. Why not USF Polytech(ic) of Lakeland, Florida’s Heartland? That style seems to work for MLB’s Angels.

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What’s wrong with USF Lakeland? That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I have complete respect for the institution and its leaders, but I wonder why they want to change their name?

Bob Gernert, Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce President, directed me to a survey link on the USF Lakeland website. The university is soliciting feedback on changing its name.

USF President Judy Genshaft has endorsed the development of a unique “footprint” for the Lakeland campus. Degree programs will be developed in a “polytechnic” model, emphasizing applied sciences, applied research, and applied technologies. It is the vision of President Genshaft and Vice President and CEO Marshall Goodman that the Lakeland Campus will become the premiere location in the State for polytechnic programs in disciplines such as engineering, information technology, manufacturing technology, agricultural technology, and applied health sciences, as well as technology and applied research in distinctive programs in business, education, applied sciences and social sciences.

As USF continues to grow in this region and develop its unique polytechnic model, the University wishes to develop a name and brand that are meaningful to the institutions stakeholders.

Please consider the following possible names for USF’s presence in our region, and identify the one or two that you think are most appropriate. We also invite you to suggest alternatives:

The choices are: USF Central, USF East, USF Heartland, USF Lakeland, USF Polk, and USF Polytech. I don’t believe they’re even trying with the first two. Pick the first and UCF would counter with their own University of Central Florida South. USF East is simply silly. USF Heartland sounds too bucolic.

That leaves us with the serious contenders. USF Lakeland is descriptive. That’s where you’d find the campus. USF Polk fits, but leaves out also served Highlands, Hardee and Hillsborough counties. I think USF Polytech has the insider’s edge. Dr. Goodman has been heavily promoting the new campus as a polytechnic model college.

I admit I don’t like the name. It’s too limiting. I dream that someday USF Lakeland becomes a multi-focused college combining technology, health, liberal arts, and engineering. With a name and focus like USF Polytech we’ll forget the artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, historians, educators, and librarians that will leave Lakeland to attend a state school elsewhere.