St. Augustine’s Change Goes Beyond Its Name

On August 1, St. Augustine’s College, established in 1867, officially changed its name to St. Augustine’s University.  However, St. Augustine’s University President Dianne Boardley Suber emphasized that “this isn’t just a name change.”

Over the past decade, St. Augustine’s has established programs in Forensic Science, Allied Health and Liberal Studies. But the most ambitious change might be the development of its first master’s program. As early as 2014, the university plans on offering a physician assistant’s program focusing on serving underserved areas with a shortage of health care providers. In addition, the university has plans to develop a master’s program in sports management.

“We have historically been a baccalaureate institution, but the demands of career choices and the trends in higher education all seem to support the move to a master’s level organization,” Suber said.

She explained that it’s only appropriate that this expansion be reflected in the name of the institution.

Rex Whisman, Chief Strategist at BrandED Consultants Group, said that, among all organizations, including higher education institutions, “their name is their brand.” He explained that, when schools offer a vast number of new programs and intend on recruiting a different type of student, particularly international students, the designation of “university” can be very effective.

He emphasized that great value is placed in a name so a change is no small decision. “They must always do their due diligence and ask … Is the institution evolving and does the name change make sense?” 

Suber explained that the university has considered changing its name for years. She said that, now, “many of the goals, objectives and the vision of the past decade have been reached. We are positioned and postured to move to a different level.” 

She added that “the tendency to perceive that the university is different than the college will garner the kinds of attention that will promote our visibility, our credibility and add to the validation of making the decision to go from college to university status.”

This isn’t the first time the school has changed its name—it last did so in 1928. St. Augustine’s Junior College became St. Augustine’s College, marking a shift from a junior college to a four-year institution.

About St. Augustine’s University

Originally established in 1867 to provide freed slaves the opportunity to receive an education, St. Augustine’s University is a historically Black college in Raleigh, N.C., with an average annual enrollment of 1,500.