Mississippi Brightwell University: Proposed rename sparks debate

The university's Facebook generated nearly 900 shares, 1000 comments, and lots of opinions.

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – A day after it was announced, the proposed new name for Mississippi University for Women is a hot topic of conversation. And so is the university’s process for choosing it.

brightwell logoPresident Nora Miller revealed the new name, Mississippi Brightwell University, Tuesday at The W’s Spring Convocation.

Reaction had been swift, especially online.

The university’s Facebook generated nearly 900 shares, 1000 comments, and lots of opinions.

MUW Alumni, Lydia Quarles and John Alex Nunnery said their initial reaction was shock.

“I can’t tell you my precise reaction but after I had that reaction I just went, ‘Please.’ You know, I mean,” Quarles said.

“I was surprised, I’ll be honest. I don’t think Brightwell was on anybody’s radar. It certainly was not on mine,” Nunnery said.

Quarles attended The W in the 1970s and received both her undergrad and graduate degrees from the university.

She said she has never supported a name change and that Mississippi University for Women signifies the college’s history and importance.

“The W was made by the legislature in 1884. That’s the third college in the state after Ole Miss and Mississippi State. It was the first public college for women, in the nation and you know Mississippi is 50th in most things but we were the first for public education for women,” Quarles said.

Nunnery graduated from the University in 2022. He was part of Beta Kappa Tau and several other organizations on campus. During his time as a student, he knew there was always the possibility of a name change and said he was open to possibilities.

“The common thing that I have heard is that people are complaining that it was not on the survey, which is fair. I think it kind of sidelined a lot of people. I think being more open about what the name change is going to be would have been better. But at the same time, I think we have to give it a chance,” Nunnery said.

Quarles said the potential name could cause backlash for funding.

“I think that you will find if the name gets changed, some of the funding that you have been receiving from alums is going to collapse. I have a monthly amount that gets drafted from my bank account, and I have put that on hold temporarily. And a lot of other alums are doing the same,” Quarles said.

Nunnery believed selling the new name emphasizing the goals and values of The W would play a big part in how well it is accepted.

“I think the future is going to depend on how they market it. I have to be honest, I think the big thing they need to do is they need to focus on going in and recruiting and getting the word out there about what the institution is, what they are offering and I think the name will come secondary,” Nunnery said.

The new name will have to be approved by the Mississippi legislature. If passed it can go into effect as early as July 1.

Quarles said that she and several other W alumni are planning to send letters to the legislature by Monday.

Nunnery said he will always refer to the school as The W or Mississippi University for Women. Still, if the name does change he will gladly refer people to Mississippi Brightwell University.

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