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« Mugged by reality? | Main | Over two million words blogged »

February 01, 2005

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Thank you Mr. McGrory!! Maybe we alums should write to him as well...food for thought

I'm sending off an email this very moment! Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe for anyone who's interested.

Well. The Governor Dummer re-naming kerfuffle. Here I've been swamped at work for a couple of days and barely blogging (to and fro Memphis on Tuesday, for example), and I learn that Governor Dummer is changing its name. I have several observations.

First, it is an unfortunate name in today's brandnamed world. Better than "Beaver College," but not much. That doesn't mean the school should change the name, but you have to think that the name costs the school some applicants.

Second, various prestigious institutions arrived at their present names only after trying on others. The Lawrenceville School, where I went "back in the day," used to be called "Maidenhead Academy," or something like that. I daresay it would not be one of the dozen or so top prep schools today if it had not changed its name at some point in the 19th century. The same can be said of Princeton University, which once was merely the "College of New Jersey." So it is not as though name-changes are unprecedented.

Third, and I offer this last factoid only as a footnote, Marty Doggett was my very first teacher in my very first class at Lawrenceville, more than 27 years ago. He was a young man then, a good teacher and a well-regarded football coach. I have no idea whether he is a "yes man." May I suggest, though, that his receptivity to the changing of the name may derive from his knowledge of Lawrenceville's history, and his hope that GDA might benefit similarly.

Fourth, I am very sympathetic to any alumnus or alumna who objects to such a disconnecting change at a college or boarding school that they love. I would be upset too. The question is whether it is better for the school in the long run.

All good points, Jack, and thanks so much for all the fascinating info -- Can you say small world? BLOG world, in fact, where the aggregate of knowledge is greater than the sum of its parts! -- although the University of Pennsylvania seems to be doing fine despite its name :).

Goomp, the 1938 GDA grad in the family, reports that name changing is nothing new with GDA, anyway: "The school was originally known as Dummer Academy. When Ted Eames became headmaster in the 1930's, he didn't really like the saying 'go to Dummer and get dumber,' so he changed the name to Governor Dummer Academy."

Be that as it may, there are two things less than ideal about the current name-changing affair, if I can believe what I read. One is the unceremonious way the name-change proposal was apparently dumped into the laps of alums, and the other is the euphemistic timidity of your former teacher, Marty Doggett. My toes curl when I hear what Goomp calls "Intellectual Morons" insult the intelligence of us common folk with weasel words like "name refinement." Janet Jackson's "costume malfunction" comes to mind.

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