Purdue University Students Protest Polytech Name Change


Purdue University students and alumni are up in arms over the changing of the institution’s name to Purdue Polytechnic Institute, with over 200 of the students and alumni signing a petition over the summer to change the name back.

The petition was started in June by senior Austin Haberly, who is asking for the school to allow students attending the school during the rebranding to have the opportunity to graduate under the old name.

“I do believe that’s important, based on the feedback of my peers,” Haberly said in a phone interview. “Everybody is desiring that title that we’ve been expecting for the last three years. This was really just dropped in our laps, and we didn’t really have a choice in the matter.”

According to dean Gary Bertoline, the new name has been in the works for two years as part of the Purdue Moves initiative.  Reactions were gauged from focus groups of students, faculty and industry pertaining to the new name prior to its official proposal, with positive results, writes Joseph Paul for JCOnline.

The name change was approved by the Board of Trustees in an effort to reflect the new mission, which maintains the school’s goal of serving the workforce for the 21st century.  In addition to the new name, a number of majors have also been added as well as a competency-based degree and an emphasis on liberal arts integration and project-based learning.

However, students and alumni feel the name change could be confusing, making it appear as though they have graduated from a regional campus or trade school that only has a connection to Purdue.

“As an employer, if I were to see Purdue Polytechnic Institute on a resume, I would assume it was a satellite school or something with a completely different applications process than the main university,” said Will Nash, a senior studying electrical and computer engineering technology.

Many students were concerned with the addition of the word “polytech,” arguing that the word holds a negative association with an institute of lower quality than a university.

Bertoline responded to the criticism by reminding students that schools such as Virginia Polytechnic and State University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are considered by many across the nation to be prestigious universities.  “If you look more deep[ly] into this, I think that you’ll find that the word ‘polytechnic’ actually has pretty high regard,” he said.

He added that the school had seen a decline in enrollment over the past decade.  The university hopes that the new name and focus on innovative education will allow its graduates to be even more sought out, then causing more potential students to be interested in attending.

“When our graduates go out and they become highly successful and recognized because they have this different kind of skill set, people will look at the ‘polytechnic’ in a light that is going to be much greater than I think anyone can even imagine,” he said. “So the product is actually what’s going to define the name.”

09 10, 2015
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