UM-St. Louis Chancellor Tom George spoke out against the proposal to change MU's official name during his annual state of the university address. The proposal would drop the word "Columbia" and the hyphen from University of Missouri-Columbia.
George told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in August that he didn't oppose the name change, but UMSL spokesman Bob Samples said George now opposes the name change because of opposition from UMSL students, faculty and alumni.
"The change is a threat to the University of Missouri system," George said. "We are the University of Missouri, in and for St. Louis. Our constituents have spoken out in favor of supporting the integrity of that system."
Samples said the UMSL Alumni Association and the Chancellor's Council sent letters to interim UM system President Gordon Lamb opposing the name change, and the UMSL Student Government Association and Faculty Senate each passed resolutions to oppose it.
"Each feels the name change would weaken the integrity of the UM system," Samples said.
He said George clarified his opinion after campus groups expressed opposition. He said the proposal was not run by the other UM system campuses to gauge initial reaction.
MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken declined to respond to George's opposition.
"MU continues to respect the mission and roles of the other campuses comprising the UM system," she said.
Banken said the "dash Columbia" made MU appear to be a regional university. She said it doesn't appropriately match MU's mission as "the state's major research, land-grant flagship university."
Banken said the proposal is supported by the Mizzou Alumni Association, the MU Faculty Council and the MU Staff Advisory Council.
The SGA resolution opposing MU's name change passed in a unanimous 72-0 vote.
"I think the biggest question was, 'Can one school take the entire system's name?'" SGA President Bryan Goers said. "The general consensus was that it would be negative to St. Louis if Columbia took the entire system's name."
Goers said the vote reflects the rest of the student body's opinion on the proposal.
"This is an issue that I've heard more about than any other issue," he said. "I think that this is one thing the large majority of the student body here is opposed to.
The For All We Call Mizzou fundraising campaign Steering Committee proposed the idea in a letter to MU Chancellor Brady Deaton in May. MU officials are calling the proposal a "name restoration" because MU was known as the University of Missouri until 1963.
George's speech also addressed other USML and UM system issues, including Lamb's statement defending stem-cell research by UM system schools. George and the other UM system chancellors issued a corresponding statement in support of Lamb's.