Conversations about changing the name of UNC Charlotte have spread on Twitter with the hashtag #droptheUNC, but Chancellor Philip L. Dubois says a name change is unlikely during his administration.
“I’ve been passively against it since 2005 when I became chancellor,” said Dubois, addressing the Student Government Association (SGA) at their Thursday Senate meeting. “Many people think that if we … drop the UNC and became the University of Charlotte, that this would be a more distinctive identity for us.”
The #droptheUNC hashtag started circulating on social media in January following the viral #FireJudyRose hashtag which urged the university’s athletic director either be fired or retire after a 1-11 football season. She announced in January that she would retire at the end of the academic year.
“We figured we would give the name change a try again after #FireJudyRose was so successful,” said alumnus Jon Lotti, an advocate for the name change.
Dubois stressed if it ever were to happen, there’d have to be broad consultation with students, alumni, donors, faculty and staff.
“I’m going to leave that to the next chancellor,” he said. “I just think it’s a big project. We got so many more important things we need to worry about.”
#DroptheUNC gained momentum last week after a sign that celebrated UNC Chapel Hill’s 2017 men’s basketball national championship was installed near the university. Outraged 49er fans convinced the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to relocate it.
NCDOT said on Twitter the sign’s placement was a mistake and it was supposed to be installed north of I-77 along I-85 S but was placed there due to construction. It is now being relocated closer to the South Carolina state line on I-77.
The name change isn’t a new concept that developed from the controversial sign, however. Roughly a decade ago, SGA polled students to see how many would want a name change. The results were divided almost evenly.
According to the current student body president Tracey Allsbrook, SGA recently weighed the pros and cons of a name change and brainstormed ways they might gauge student interest on the topic.
“We do understand it won’t be just as easy as changing the name,” she said. “There is a great deal of rebranding that would have to take place as well as costs associated with it.”
In the near future, SGA will be looking at ways to survey and collect data from students.
“It probably won’t be completed under my administration, but we will have information moving forward [for] students to work from,” she said.
Student body vice president Bryan McCollum said he would support an official committee exploring the option.
Allsbrook and McCollum are also considering compromises, such as removing “uncc” from the university’s website and email addresses as a way to stop the acronym from competing with the Charlotte name.
“My view has always been … that what will make the most difference for UNC Charlotte’s reputation is not its name but its deeds,” Dubois said.
He pointed out that UNC Charlotte, only 71 years old, is considered young in higher education and the university’s reputation is still being developed.
Dubois said he imagines UNC Charlotte growing to a population as large as 60,000 students, with classes spread throughout the city on different campuses.
“Believe me,” he said. “If you’re a university of 60,000, they’ll know your name.”