The time is now, adopt The University of Charlotte

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Ross Smith
Ross Smith signed this petition

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, (also known with various levels of correctness as “UNC Charlotte,” “UNC-Charlotte,” “UNCC,” “UNC-C,” “NC-Charlotte,” “UNC, Charlotte” and “Charlotte”) is the second-largest institution by enrollment in the University of North Carolina System and accounts for a substantial portion of the overall UNC System growth over the last decade. If you’re a student, alumnus, faculty member, or friend of UNC Charlotte, you are likely already aware of the issues that arise directly from confusing monikers and inconsistent branding imputed upon the University’s current name. If you already “get it,” go ahead and sign this petition.  

Some of you may have come here wondering what is going on, and why so many people affiliated with the University are so passionate about officially changing the name to The University of Charlotte.

Most importantly, it comes down to the importance of the University’s “brand.” The University’s lack of unique, foundational brand equity and market awareness is unacceptable for an institution with an enrollment of 30,000 students, which is growing larger and faster than any other public university in the state of North Carolina.

Commonly, those without a direct University affiliation do not understand that UNC Charlotte is not a satellite or branch campus of UNC-Chapel Hill or “UNC” (whether UNC refers to UNC-Chapel Hill or the UNC System writ-large). The farther away from the Greater Charlotte Region one travels, this misconception becomes more common. Unfortunately, there are many, including our own students and alumni, who do not understand this distinction.

While each university operates under the umbrella of the UNC Board of Governors and shares a common funding source from the North Carolina General Assembly, in fact, each of the sixteen public universities in North Carolina is an independent institution. This means that each university has its own board of trustees, executive leadership structure, faculty, and athletics department—whether its name contains “UNC” or not.

The lack of common understanding about this distinction prevents the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from clearly establishing its own strong, independent reputation for excellence on a local, regional, and national scale. The city of Charlotte—itself transforming rapidly into a vibrant, diverse, cosmopolitan city of global importance as a financial center—deserves to have the only major research university in town reflect the same brand of institutional excellence. Instead of the significant achievements of our students, alumni, and faculty being often mistakenly credited to “UNC,” a more clear and concise brand like The University of Charlotte would let everyone from NoDa to Norway know that it is North Carolina’s urban research university where significant advancements in STEM, humanities, and special education (to name a few) are happening every single day.

Some might ask:  “Doesn’t having the ‘UNC’ in its name help, more than hurt, the University’s reputation?” There is no question that in the early years of the transition from Charlotte College into becoming a university, the affiliation with “UNC” in its name lent substantial credibility. However, the growth of the city, the University, and UNC’s own brand since the early 1960s has now led us to a place wherein the University’s brand is better on its own, without the inevitable confusion.

In addition, the unfortunate abbreviation of “UNCC” confuses the brand further, because “CC” is inherent in virtually every abbreviation of community colleges around the state (look no further than the local community college—CPCC). While community colleges serve a very important purpose in the higher education landscape, it diminishes the value of one’s bachelors, masters, or Ph.D. degree for a potential employer to see “UNCC” and unconsciously apply a community college connotation to a large university.

Similarly, the number of public universities in the state that do not contain the “UNC” is far greater than the number that do. It is immediately apparent that schools like Appalachian State, East Carolina, and North Carolina State have recognizable, independent brands. None of these schools are clamoring to rename themselves “UNC Boone,” “UNC Greenville,” and “UNC Raleigh,” respectively. Ask yourself why that is the case.  Then, ask yourself why the second Largest university in the state, housed in the largest city in the state, needs a “UNC” more than any of those schools.

We are confident that our brand, inextricably recognized as North Carolina’s urban research university, can stand on its own.  Having a unique brand and name can positively transform the University’s perception for all future generations of our students and alumni, while mitigating the unnecessary and unwanted confusion with our sister universities. This does not mean leaving the UNC system, becoming private, or modifying our support structure. It simply means changing the name.

The University of Charlotte would not be alone. Several publicly-funded, research-oriented universities in other states bear the name of their hometowns. The University of Louisville, The University of Pittsburgh, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Houston are all analogous examples. In 1994, “Memphis State University” officially changed its name to “The University of Memphis.”  These universities are our peers, and with the exception of Pitt, were all once our athletic conference mates.

We believe that a stronger identity and more precise brand would elevate our stature in that regard, as well.

With the University’s exponential growth over the last two decades—along with the City of Charlotte transforming into a world class city—it’s time to succinctly and uniquely define our brand as the “University of Charlotte.” If you agree, please sign this petition and share it with others.Go Niners!