JACKSON – In August, Mississippi University for Women President Claudia Limbert announced that she was recommending a name change for the historic school to Reneau University.
Still to be determined are whether that name change will occur before her just-announced plans to retire next year, and whether it will occur at all.
Leah Rupp, a spokeswoman for the Board of Trustees of state Institutions of Higher Learning, said recommendation “is still under consideration.”
Limbert announced Monday that she was stepping down at the end of her current contract in June 2010.
An August news release from the school said Limbert would recommend the name change to the College Board and, if approved, it then would be submitted to the 2010 Legislature. But it is not on the preliminary agenda for the October College Board meeting.
On Monday, it was not clear when and if the College Board would take up the change.
Limbert recommended naming the school after Sallie Eola Reneau, an advocate in Mississippi for women’s higher education in the 1800s.
Limbert and others felt the change would make the university more acceptable to a broader range of students. But the idea of a name change simply furthered the distrust between Limbert and an alumni constituency that had been at odds with her for several years.
In the August news release, Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said, “It’s important that we look at every opportunity to ensure that this great institution continues to be viable. While changing the name is definitely an emotional issue, I think it is important that we look at what is best for the institution’s growth.”
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said he does not believe the Legislature will vote to change the name of the university. “Absolutely not,” he said.
MUW’s hometown legislators, economic developers and other local officials have been generally supportive of the name change, however.
Of Limbert, Holland said, “I think it is time for new leadership at the W. I know there are issues at the W, but one of the biggest issues is Dr. Limbert. She did not give ownership of the school to the alumni and other supporters. Because of that, she has done more to destroy that university than any name change would.”
State Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, said he has not worked that closely with Limbert, but said whoever follows her “will certainly have his or her challenges.”
Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal