Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

What's In a Name?

Briar Cliff College in Sioux City has been renamed "Briar Cliff University." Central Methodist College in little Fayette, Missouri has been renamed "Central Methodist University." Same with my parents' alma mater (class of 52) Park College, er, Park University in Park, Mo. I teach at Minnesota State University, Mankato - the old Mankato State University. I still call it Mankato State from time to time.

For years now, Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield has been trying to garner enough votes in the state legislature to rename itself "Missouri State University." Usually with opposition from the legislators from Columbia, home of ol' Mizzou, the measures go down to defeat.

They are trying to get the name switched again. The Mizzou folks down there are debating the name change. Here's a thread from, oddly enough, the football board at What does an economist say? Well some Tigerboarder actually had the guts to say this:

Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand Theory" ... you might want to check out this guy named Milton Friedman while you're at it. See what they might say about a name change.
First off, nobody has joined the thread created by that person. I'm not surprised, but I am a bit amused. If you want to be left alone in a crowd, when somebody asks you what you do for a living, tell them you are an economist or, better yet, tell them you teach economics. It's a sure-fire conversation killer. You might as well tell them that you enjoy wetting the bed at night.

Second, what would Smith and Friedman say about the name change? My guess is this: the school wants to change its name in an attempt to improve the quality of students who apply and to increase the amount of funds coming into the school. But if the school only changes its name but doesn't change what it is (i.e. its standards), the new name won't do a darn bit of good.