‘The W’ forever: University announces new name

Published 8:03 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

From the steps of historic Poindexter Hall, Mississippi University for Women President Nora Miller announced to a crowd gathered on Shattuck Lawn the university’s decision to codify into state law its intention to remain “The W” while declaring the university’s new formal name to be Wynbridge State University of Mississippi on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

After opening remarks by Mayor Keith Gaskin, Miller credited the university’s alumni and key stakeholders with helping to re-center the nearly 18-month process to select a name and the university’s intention to move forward with requesting a name change this legislative session.

“We are grateful to our alumni and friends of the university for reminding us that our identity as ‘The W’ has both an enduring legacy and the flexibility to carry our institution into the future. By enshrining our commitment to ‘The W’ in the law, we promise our community that graduates past, present and future will remain united,” Miller said.

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Wynbridge was submitted for consideration by alumni and faculty after the university’s Naming Task Force was called to prioritize a meaningful “W” name. According to task force co-chair and Dean of Library Services Amanda Clay Powers, “Wynbridge creatively pairs the Old English word for ‘W,’ using it as a ‘bridge’ that connects past, present and future W graduates. With our commitment to keeping ‘The W,’ we feel this is the perfect name for the university that looks back at our illustrious past as the first publicly supported university for women, keeping our tradition of looking forward into the future.”

After President Miller’s remarks, Faculty Emerita Bridget Pieschel, author of “Loyal Daughters: One Hundred Years at Mississippi University for Women 1884-1984,” spoke of her support for the continued use of “The W” as it elevates the historical significance of women and the work the university continues through its mission of educating women in leadership.

Sam Garrie, Student Government Association president, spoke to what the continued use of “The W” with a formal name of Wynbridge means to current students.

The program concluded with Laverne Greene-Leech, one of the six African American women who desegregated the university in 1966. Greene-Leech emphasized that The W excels at providing access to higher education to those who have been previously denied. As the first public institution for women in the nation, this will continue for generations that come following a formal name change. Green-Leech encouraged the crowd to embrace the new name because, “change brings progress, and progress brings change.”

The university is requesting the Mississippi Legislature to approve legislation that will allow the university to change its name. The deadline for the introduction of general bills is Monday, Feb. 19.