By Matt Flores
AUSTIN — State Sen. Jeff Wentworth announced Thursday that he has filed a bill to change the name of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.
“The students believe that for the university to progress to a top-tier institution of higher learning, it needs to move away from name-implied regionalism,” Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said, flanked by students at a Capitol news conference. “And I agree with them.”
If passed, Senate Bill 928 will change the name of the institution to Texas State University at San Marcos.
It would be the university's fifth name change in its 104-year history. But it would be the most dramatic, since it would remove the “Southwest” designation.
“We are familiar with universities such as Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State. That kind of name recognition and the academic and athletic excellence the names represent are what these Southwest Texas State University students envision for their school,” Wentworth said.
Student leaders said the designation connotes regionalism though the school in fact is more representative of the entire state. Southwest Texas, with more than 25,000 students, is the largest university in the country that bears a double-directional name.
“Think about Northeast Idaho State University, and I bet you are picturing a small, inconsequential regional school in the middle of nowhere,” said Robert Doerr, president of the university's Associated Student Government. “That is what a lot of people outside the state of Texas and some places in Texas think of when you say the name ‘Southwest Texas State University.’”
Last month, SWT’s Associated Student Government adopted a resolution 34-0 endorsing the name change.
It was one of a handful of pro-name-change resolutions the student body has passed in the past several years, Doerr said.
The name change matter has long been contentious. Last year, an effort lost steam when the Texas State University System Board of Regents tabled the matter as it searched for a new president.
Last week, the regents reaffirmed their desire to delay any effort to change the school’s name until the 2005 Legislature.
Southwest Texas’ new president, Denise Trauth, hasn’t taken a stand on the issue.