By Alex Balletto – Copy Editor
It’s a quaint place here – and it has been since 1851… Lasell is one of the oldest institutions in the area, pinned in Auburndale for over 150 years. The College has held former names in the past – some being Lasell Female Seminary and Lasell Junior College – but has, since 1989, maintained its four-year college status. Recently, however, Lasell has entertained discussion on a possible switch to a university.
The switch has been a rumor since my freshman year in 2015, and since, I’ve never been in favor of it. Where it is true the meanings of Lasell to its diverse makeup are various, I view the college as a close-knit community. Indeed, most of my fellow students here I know view Lasell to be a neighborhood within a neighborhood. It’s a relationship-oriented campus. It is for these reasons I view Lasell as a “college.”
After telling others where I go to college (usually I say “Lasell”), a common reply is this clarifying question: “La Salle University in Pennsylvania?” I respond with, “No, the college in Newton, Mass.” Certainly, the number of mix-ups with the competing institution would not be mitigated by Lasell’s switching to a university, even though the Philly school is two words. If Lasell has a recognition problem, changing its name further – matching the name more with other institutions – probably would not help. If our recognition problem stems from Lasell’s small size, we should bolster that reputation.
Advantages of the switch most regard international and grad students, and his or her perceptions regarding the College’s stature. Perhaps more prestige lies under a university status – of course, master’s degrees are increasingly marketable and Lasell’s offerings are aligning around today’s markets, but is it this prestige the College desires?
I see merit in the switch only if one of Lasell’s goals is to focus on international and graduate students. I suppose if the college desires foundation grants, the university status would help achieve that goal too. But in my opinion, there are other worries, like keeping our small community a community at all.
But here is the bottom line: an institution’s main goal is to facilitate enlightening conversations and lessons. If this goal is executed, along with raising graduates under the College’s values, the name of the institution is superfluous.