WHILE Charles Sturt University has been put through the public wringer over its calamitous on again-off again name change, at least there’s a silver lining.
For the past couple of months CSU has endured blazing controversy after it was revealed the executive was considering a name change, with either Wiradyuri or plain Sturt (without the Charles) put forward as possibilities.
At the time, the message coming out of CSU was that the university was “working on a refresh for our brand, to ensure we speak clearly and consistently to our students, staff and members of the public”.
Social media quickly lit up as former students, in particular, defended the traditions of their alma mater and demanded the original name remain.
And an online petition opposing the name change attracted more than 6000 signatures in a month and a half.
Vice chancellor Professor Andrew Vann ended weeks of speculation on Monday morning by confirming CSU had finalised its position on its name change proposal - deciding that Charles Sturt University was a perfectly good name, after all.
In a statement to the media, Professor Vann outlined why the institution had chosen to retain the name it has had for the past 30 years: “We heard loud and clear from your stories that you are connected to our name and our rich history. We believe it’s important we reflect the views of our community in our namesake.”
The statement also made it clear that other aspects of the rebranding, including “changes to our visual identity, logo and our marketing approach” would go ahead, but the name was here to stay.
It was a slightly embarrassing backdown, but CSU should look at the positives.
If ever the university wanted feedback on how its graduates felt about CSU, this exercise has provided it in spades.
And while CSU’s history dates back just 30 years, it’s clear the university has won a place in the hearts of many who have studied there.
On reflection, it may have been much worse news for CSU if the plan to change its name had been met with quiet indiiference rather than furious opposition.
At least the backlash showed that people care about the university, and they clearly care quite deeply.
If CSU takes nothing else from the past few weeks, it should be happy with that.