COLUMBUS – Either Reneau University or Waverley University will be the new name of the Mississippi University for Women, President Dr. Claudia Limbert announced Wednesday.
Limbert was responding to questions surrounding why the name Welty University had fallen from grace in a seven-month process to rename the Columbus four-year liberal arts institution.
Simply, the family of Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty “declined” to agree to let MUW use her name, stated a joint announcement from MUW and the Welty family.
Tuesday, the Daily Journal began asking Welty spokesman Holmes Adams of Jackson and Perry Sansing, MUW assistant to the president, about the extent of efforts by the school to secure the Welty family’s permission.
The Journal had received numerous public contacts supporting the Welty choice and sought to determine why the name was rejected a few weeks ago.
“The university and the Welty family are proud of the ways in which the bond between Eudora Welty and the university is demonstrated,” their statement reads. “By mutual agreement, Welty will not be considered as a potential name for the university.”
The family said it wants to keep her name focused on her home and garden in Jackson, and her manuscripts and photograph collections.
Last fall, Limbert announced she wanted a new name for the school to make it more marketable and speak for a new mission, which has included men since 1982.
She appointed a campus committee, it solicited suggestions, then winnowed them down. These names were subjected to market research and three names emerged: Reneau, Waverley and Welty-Reneau.
With an eye to using Welty alone, additional market research was gathered, but the results were not strong enough to change anything.
Reneau honors 19th Century education advocate Sally Reneau, and Waverley refers to a Walter Scott novel about change.
While some criticism of Reneau has arisen, MUW insiders say her family did not own slaves and they think concerns about her background will fade, if that is the final name.
Limbert will present her choice to the Board of Trustees of the state Institutions of Higher Learning, which runs the state’s eight public universities. IHL will present its choice to the Legislature’s final examination in January.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal