Published Online: June 2, 2009

Marshall study: Rebranding doesn't help colleges

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Changing the name of a college or university apparently does little to boost enrollment.

Marshall University says doctoral student James M. Owston studied data from more than 160 institutions across the country that changed their names.

Most of his research focused on institutions in West Virginia, which had the largest percentage of "college-to-university" rebrandings of any state.

Since 1970, 11 West Virginia schools, including The University of Charleston and Shepherd University, have changed their names.

Owston says the impetus behind most changes was to gain prestige and boost enrollment and fundraising efforts.

But in most cases, Owston found enrollment slowed. At schools where enrollment grew, the rate was not as great as before the name change.

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