Simon's Rock to change its name
By next year, the new moniker Bard College at Simon's Rock will be in full use on stationery and diplomas. It is the school's fifth name change in its 40-year history.
While some members of the campus community have been saddened and hurt by the change, others say that, like a rose by any other name, the school's mission and character will remain the same.
According to the college's Vice President and Provost Mary Marcy, the college's board made the decision to change the name in October.
Shortly before the Thanksgiving break, Marcy made a "soft" release of the news through a series of talks with groups of students and faculty about the name change and other developments at the school.
"People were very upset about (the name change). They were asking why, and why weren't students consulted first," said Katharina Kempf, a senior with a concentration in politics, law and society.
She said the initial announcement drew a huge debate, particularly on the college's online discussion forum and on the Simon's Rock Journal, listed at livejournal.com.
The greatest contention seemed to be in putting "Bard College" first in the title.
As Class of 1998 alumnus Nick Ballenger posted on Nov. 7: "I am extremely upset about this. I did not go to Bard. I went to Simon's Rock, and I'm proud of that."
Simon's Rock is a four-year, private liberal arts college, where students can matriculate at high school age. Because of its financial struggles in the mid-1970s, the school was acquired by Bard College of Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. Leon Botstein, the president of Bard, became the ex-officio president of Simon's Rock. He still holds both offices today.
In a recent interview with Marcy in her office, she said that the change was part of an effort "to be more clear about identity" and "to be very clear about the Bard College system." She also noted that the school's founder, Elizabeth Blodgett Hall, favored the change.
"Some like it. Some don't. But there's no change to our mission," said Marcy.
Anne O'Dwyer, a psychology professor who has taught at the school for a decade, said the name change has undermined some of the other developments at the school.
"Name changes are meaningful. At first, I was sad. I love Simon's Rock. But it's really just the order of words. It doesn't change what we do here," she said.
Now in its 40th-anniversary year, the school is celebrating with a slew of new programs and developments, on top of an ample $26 million endowment.
Soon joining the school's faculty will be Harvard University's former Graduate School of Education Dean Ellen Condliffe Lagemann.
|» What's in a name?|
Since last year, the school continues to roll out what it calls "signature programs," which include study away and internship programs.
Students can now study in Ghana or Africa, or matriculate for a full year at Lincoln College at the University of Oxford.
So will the name change make or break the school?
"It's hard to say," said student Katharina Kempf. "But the people on the (college's) board have been invested in Simon's Rock many more years than many of us have been at the school.
"It won't affect the character and quality here," Kempf said.
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