P H I L A D E L P H I A, Nov. 20, 2000 -- Beaver College, aiming to shed a source ofridicule and boost enrollment, unveiled today a new school namethat’s seemingly satire-proof: Arcadia University.
The decision was announced just after midnight at a surprisepajama party for students, who were rounded up from residence hallswith less than an hour’s notice.
“Arcadia University reflects our foundation and the kind oflearning environment we aim to foster,” President Bette E. Landmansaid.
Much has changed about the college since it was founded in 1853as a small women’s college in western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County.For starters, the school is no longer in Beaver — it moved across thestate to suburban Philadelphia in 1925.
And then, there were all those jokes.
Old Name ‘Elicited Ridicule’Landman said in a letter earlier this year that the old name“too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarkspertaining to the rodent, the TV show Leave It to Beaver and thevulgar reference to the female anatomy.”
Beaver College has appeared on David Letterman’s Top 10 list.Conan O’Brien and Howard Stern have made jokes about it. And whenSaturday Night Live writers invented an annoying film criticfor a recent sketch, they made him a representative of BeaverCollege campus radio.
The college’s own research shows the school appeals to 30percent fewer prospective students solely because of the name. Andthe problems worsened with the rise of the Internet, since some Webfilters intended to screen out sexually explicit material blockedaccess to the Beaver College Web site.
The trustees of the 2,800-student school in the Philadelphiasuburb of Glenside voted in June to change the college’s name andto seek university status, which the state granted earlier thismonth.
Surveys about the name change were sent to more than 20,000alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff, and comments came infrom others who saw news stories about the search for a name. Sixnames were sent to focus groups, and Arcadia was the clear winner,college spokesman Bill Avington said.
“It seems to be a perfect name,” Avington said, citingArcadia’s origin as a picturesque region of ancient Greece and itsassociations with a peaceful environment for thought and learning.
So is there any way anyone can make something rude out of thenew name?
“We don’t believe so. Certainly, that was something we lookedfor,” Avington said. “We tried to go through every scenario.We’ve looked pretty carefully at it.”
The name, along with the university status, become official July16, 2001.