Saturday, 30 September, 2023

Identity Transition: When a University Decides to Change Its Name

Bishal Basu

Identity Transition: When a University Decides to Change Its Name

Popular News

Educational institutions are no exception to the rule that change is a constant in the evolution of institutions. The renaming of a university is one such revolutionary choice. This exact point is where Bangladesh's BRAC University, which is located in Dhaka, is right now. BRAC University was founded in 2001 and has now assimilated into the academic community. However, the university has recently considered changing its name, which has sparked debate and worries among its current students, faculty, and alumni.

Universities, like people, gradually take on a unique identity. This identity is a synthesis of the institution's standing in the academic community, its cultural connections, and the sense of belonging it gives people. When a university declares its decision to change its name, it invariably upends its identity, bringing with it a variety of feelings and difficulties.

Current Students: Navigating an Uncertain Identity

The proposed name change poses a special set of difficulties for the current BRAC University students. On their academic path, the university's name bears weight and significance. It is the name that appears on their academic credentials, such as their degrees. Students may struggle to regain their feeling of legitimacy and continuity after an abrupt change in terminology. Employers and other organizations might not be aware of the university's new identity during this transition, which could result in a temporary lack of recognition in the labour market.

Additionally, enrolled pupils might experience perplexity and mental distress. An educational institution's name can promote pride and a sense of community. That link may feel broken with a shift, leaving students unsure of their role in the newly branded university.

Teachers: Navigating Professional Identity

The prospective name change raises a number of professional and personal questions for the BRAC University teachers. Academics frequently base their professional decisions on the reputation of the university they attend. A name change may cast doubt on the university's standing in the academic community, which would undermine the validity of their own research.

Faculty members may also need to change their research profiles, curricula, and teaching materials to reflect the new name. Such modifications could take a lot of time and effort during an already difficult academic career. Faculty members may also need to respond to worries and inquiries from their students, who may want guarantees regarding the institution's academic integrity following the change in name.

Alumni: Navigating Nostalgia and Legacy

Alumni, who are an important component of every university's history, frequently have deep emotional connections to their alma mater. The university's name evokes fond recollections of their formative years as well as their academic successes. Alumni may have conflicting emotions in the wake of the university's name change, including a sense of estrangement from the name they cherish and interest in the institution's future course.

Alumni networks and organisations must also overcome the difficulty of changing their identities. In the interim, as people adjust to the transition and decide whether to support the newly named university, alumni pride and engagement may suffer. It is the responsibility of the institution's leadership to actively involve alumni in the decision-making process and openly explain the changes' motivations.

Navigating the Transition: Strategies and Considerations

To mitigate the challenges faced by current students, teachers, and alumni, a university contemplating a name change must adopt a well-considered and inclusive approach:

1.         Transparency and Communication: The university management ought to be open and clear about the reasons behind the name change. By doing so, people can better identify themselves with the institution's goal and comprehend the decision's justification.

2.         Involvement of Stakeholders: Participate in decision-making with the help of the teachers, alumni, and students. Ask for their feedback on the new name and take it into consideration. The sense of ownership and cooperation among stakeholders is cultivated by this involvement.

3.         Gradual Transition: Change the name gradually to give stakeholders time to adapt. This could entail a time of transition during which both the old and new names are used, assisting people in adjusting to the change without experiencing an abrupt disconnect..

4.         Preservation of Legacy: Accepting change is important, but protecting the university's history is just as important. Create methods to preserve the former name's history and accomplishments, ensuring that it stays a treasured part of the institution's past.

5.         Support and Resources: Assist professors in upgrading their instructional materials and academic profiles. Give advice to students seeking employment with the name of the new university on their CV.

6.         Alumni Engagement: Recruit alumni to assist with the transition. Create forums where former students can express their opinions, share their recollections, and shape the institution's changing identity.

The choice to rename a university is a significant one that has an impact on the academic community. The prospective name change for BRAC University serves as a reminder that, despite the fact that change might be unsettling, it can also lead to evolution and growth. Educational institutions can successfully navigate the challenging terrain of name changes while keeping the principles and history that make them special by listening to the worries of current students, teachers, and alumni with empathy and forethought. BRAC University has the chance to create its new identity in a way that honours its past and embraces its future as it sets out on this transformative path.


The writer is a Finance Graduate

from North South University