Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Lisa Liu
The tentatively named Carle Illinois College of Medicine may be the University of Illinois’ first college to recognize a donor in its title.
In a Senate Executive Committee meeting Monday, members voiced their support for keeping the suggested name in a 6-2 vote, with one abstention.
Although future donors may cause the name to change, the placeholder, which will have to receive approval from the Carle Health System, was crafted to represent both the university and the contributor.
“We’ve been very equal partners in all deliberations, so we wanted our name in parallel with Carle’s name,” Chancellor Phyllis Wise said.
Some campus senate members, however, questioned the inclusion of “Carle” in the new college’s title. Given the past controversy involving public concern in 2014 over the legality of Carle Foundation Hospital’s tax exemption, naming the new college after Carle might not be the best move.
“Carle has caused a lot of conflict in Urbana,” Library Chair Mary Mallory said. “I’m afraid that it may hurt fundraising to have Carle’s name in it.”
Still, Wise pointed out that naming colleges after their donors is a common practice across the nation. Cornell, UCLA, UT Austin, and Western Michigan are examples of universities that have medical schools named for sponsors, she said.
And Carle has promised $100 million to the new college, so the committee wants to honor the donation and establish a good example for other potential donors.
Associate Chancellor Robin Kaler suggested that if other parties made substantial donations to the medical college later on, the name could be amended as “[donor’s name] College of Medicine of Carle Health System at University of Illinois.”
The issue with this is that the name may become too long.
“At some point, it becomes unwieldy,” said General University Policy Chair Nicholas Burbules. “The more you pack in [names], the more ‘Illinois’ gets pushed down the list.”
The placement of “Illinois” in the name has been debated. Material Science and Engineering graduate student Calvin Lear finds it odd for it to be included, since no other college on campus has such a modifier. For example, he said, the College of Engineering is not known as the Illinois College of Engineering.
But other campus senate members say that including it is necessary for identifying the university’s relation to the college.
One possibility is changing the name to the “Carle College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign” to denote the specific campus, but copyrighting the hyphen would be more expensive.
Also, doing so would further lengthen the name and could cause the public to abbreviate it or use acronyms, which Kaler wants to avoid because “nobody knows what they mean.”
“We tried to keep it as short as possible, like parents who don’t want their kids nicknamed,” Kaler said.
For now, it appears that “Carle Illinois College of Medicine” will be the temporary name.
It will have to be further reviewed, though Information Technology Chair John Hart said he thinks that establishing the name as early as possible is important.
“Being able to put a label on it is very useful. Nobody knows where the Mayo Clinic is, but they know of the Mayo Clinic,” Hart said. “Just having a name gets you over a large hurdle in terms of recognition and branding.”