UH-D campaigns for name change

University of Houston- Downtown has raised eyebrows with its $50,000 name-change attempt.  |  Aisha Bouderdaben/ The Daily Cougar

University of Houston-Downtown has raised eyebrows with its $50,000 name-change attempt. | Aisha Bouderdaben/ The Daily Cougar

UH-Downtown has received criticism for the costly efforts it has taken to change its name.

UH-D hired Stamats, a higher education marketing company, for thousands of dollars to supervise a failed attempt to change the university’s name.

“Stamats is a leader in higher education marketing. They were chosen following a Request for Proposal posted by the university and after considerable work with a local marketing firm and by internal UH-D staff,” said UH-D director of media relations Claire Caton.

The discussion regarding the name change began in 2007 and occurred throughout a period of two years.

“The discussions were focused on eliminating confusion between the University of Houston and the University of Houston-Downtown and increasing visibility for UH-D,” Caton said.

Caton said that the university took perceptions internally and externally based on feedback from students, alumni, staff and faculty.

In Fall 2008, former UH-D President Max Castillo announced the university was seeking a name change.

“We are part of the UH System, but we are not part of UH,” said Castillo in a statement. “We are a separate and unique university in the UH System. This university is not a branch, not a satellite, of UH.”

There was no plan to change the name of the System’s other two universities, UH-Clear Lake and UH-Victoria.

Opponents of a name change said that a new name would be confusing and would lead to an explanation regarding the name change to be completely avoidable.

Those who in favor of the name change believed it would bring countless opportunities to the university, such as reaching Tier One status.

Two years after the discussion of the name change was brought up and regents voted to ask the Texas Legislature to support and approve a new name for UH-D, the issue was stuck.

Former State Sen. Mario Gallegos, a graduate of UH-D, said he would sponsor a bill if his colleagues thought it was a good idea.

“If they say no, then no,” said Gallegos in a statement. “There’s no use in filing a bill if my colleagues aren’t going to be for it.”

Some of the potential names included City University of Houston, Houston University, City University Houston, Downtown Houston University, Houston Downtown University, City of Houston University and Southeast Texas State University.

UH-D Student Government Association President and applied mathematics senior Isaac Valdez said he believes the university made a smart decision in hiring Stamats.

“My perspective is that in this institution, you have to spend money in order to make such a huge decision to change the name of this university that will impact everyone,” Valdez said.

“The investment to conduct extensive research before changing the name of our university was a smart and safe decision to make. Otherwise, the change of name could very easily lead to a much larger expense that comes with the idea of rebranding the entire campus. We would have had to replace business cards, banners, ads and other stuff associated with the name,” Valdez said in a statement.

Valdez does not think the raise in tuition was a cause of the investment of signing the contracts to hire Stamats.

UH-D international business junior Oscar Bispe said he thinks even considering a change in the university’s name was absurd.

“Multiple rumors were spread on how much money was spent on hiring this company. Whether it was $50,000 or $350,000, spending thousands of dollars on changing UH-D’s name could have been used elsewhere,” Bispe said. “The money could have been allocated to better resources for the students and faculty.”

Some students said they didn’t feel that the University warranted a name change.

“Based on the feedback we received, people were pleased with the current name,” Caton said. “There wasn’t enough interest in changing the name.”

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