Paul H. Thompson saw some Weber State College sweatshirts marked down 40 percent in an Ogden store recently, but he didn't buy them. For Christmas, the WSC president's children received a new version of a Wildcat sweatshirt emblazoned with "Weber State University."
Gerald R. Sherratt has put the purchase of a Southern Utah State College souvenir on his to-do list. The college president had better hurry. Faculty, staff, students and local residents have almost depleted the college bookstore of SUSC memorabilia.SUSC bookstore manager Dennis Ohms put some $1.99 SUSC items on display recently. The display was sold out within hours.
At the stroke of midnight Monday, Dec. 31, as decreed by the 1990 Legislature, Weber State College and Southern Utah State College will cease to exist. Both will be transformed into universities, boosting the state's total to four universities out of nine public higher-education institutions.
Gala celebrations with dinners, dances, music and fireworks are planned at both schools to usher in the new names with the New Year.
Weber will also continue the festivities Jan. 11 when Thompson is officially inaugurated.
But when the hats and noisemakers are thrown out with yesterday's trash, what will new names mean to WSC and SUSC?
Their presidents think plenty, although they believe the differences will be more image than substance.
"It doesn't mean that we're going to change our mission," Weber's Thompson said of the name change.
"People were worried that now we'd be want to be a research university or stop our focus on technology or offer a lot of Ph.D's. We will not become a research university. We have a mission that was clearly defined two years ago. We are primarily an undergraduate teaching university. We are going to continue to focus on technology. That's important to the future of northern Utah. It is important to people that we maintain quality in those areas."
Sherratt of SUSC thinks the name change and the controversy that surrounded it will actually postpone the awarding of more graduate programs to the Cedar City school.
Thompson also believes the new name is a plus because it more clearly defines the type of institution that Weber is. Company recruiters who wouldn't come to Weber as a college last year are on campus this year talking to students, Thompson said.
Additionally, Weber, which like all Utah higher-education institutions has struggled to keep faculty, has also seen an increase in applicants for faculty positions this year. "It helps to be able to show Weber State University as the name of the institution," Thompson said.
Sherratt thinks the greatest effect of the name change will be on students. "Their degrees will become more marketable than before."
But he also thinks Southern Utah University will be an economic boost to southern Utah. "Having a university in our area will make us more marketable to companies."
The SUSC president knows of three major companies investigating the possibility of locating operations in Cedar City. One of these he specifically ties to the college's switch to university status.
"It's an image thing. It's a concept on how people look at the institution. They will now look at the institution for what it is. There won't be confusion about what college means," said Sherratt, who believes many equate the term "college" with two-year schools.
"University gives a certain credibility. It's like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Come Jan. 1, we'll be no different an institution than Dec. 31 but we'll have more credibility," the president said.
SUSC students understand the importance of having their diplomas read "university," Sherratt said.
The Class of '90 was given the option of delaying receipt of their diplomas until after Jan. 1 so they would read "university." Sherratt reported that 70 percent of 630 students decided to wait for "university."
"I can't say that I blame them," he said.
Sherratt himself opted to have a new diploma issued after his alma mater, Utah State Agricultural College, became Utah State University.
Thompson doesn't know how many Weber students waited to receive their diplomas after the name change. "I've encountered students who have delayed their graduation from last summer, waiting a couple of quarters for Weber State University. I don't think thousands have done it, but I've talked to some who did."
Ring in the new U.'s
Activities scheduled Dec. 31, 1990-Jan. 1, 1991:Weber State University
7 p.m., dinner, Shepherd Union.
8:30 p.m., dancing/entertainment, Shepherd Union.
10:30 p.m., VIP speeches, Shepherd Union.
Midnight, unveiling of new "U" sign and fireworks, Harrison Boulevard.Southern Utah University
7 p.m., grand buffet, Student Center.
8 p.m., Command Performance, Centrum.
9 p.m., Rockin' University Eve, Harris Pavilion.
10 p.m., Moments to Remember, Centrum.
10 p.m., Country Countdown, Physical Education Building.
Midnight, fireworks, athletic field.