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Mississippi University for Women set to...

Mississippi University for Women set to change name to Mississippi Brightwell University

By: Sarah Ulmer - January 8, 2024

The university has been in the process of researching a potential name change since 2022. The new name could become official as early as July 2024.

On Monday, the Mississippi University for Women, or MUW, announced it would be changing the school’s name to Mississippi Brightwell University (MBU). The change comes after a 2022 survey that sought responses for the potential change through a formal naming process.

MUW said the new name is based on the motto, “We study for light to bless with light.”

“Our distinguished faculty – beacons of enlightenment and a wellspring of knowledge – collaborate with each of our students one-on-one. They inspire, cultivate and guide them towards monumental achievements, fostering an atmosphere of encouragement and leadership,” said the MUW naming process website.

For many who refer to MUW as “The W,” university leaders did not want to choose a name that would take away from the long-held alma mater. They also indicated that The W will live on in the newly proposed Women’s College, an initiative that will go before the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) board in February for approval.

The new name and rebrand of the university will not impact MUW’s only held mascot, Ody Owl. However, a slight update to reflect the new colors will be made to the mascot.

Over 4,300 people completed the survey that was split into five groups: alumni, faculty and staff, students, prospective students and the community. The survey asked a series of questions related to the university’s standing, one of which touched on the potential new naming of MUW.

In that question, alumni, the group that participated the most in the survey, indicated they would prefer a new name that represented the school’s location, with 67.2 percent supportive of “University of Northern Mississippi” (UNM).

In another category, a list of potential new names were offered with descriptions on where the historical tie was located. The top three ranked options included UNM, as well as Callaway State University and Weathersby State University.

Brightwell was not offered as an option in the original survey.

According to the school’s website, the new name will be effective July 1, 2024. Yet, lawmakers must approve the new change before it goes into effect.

MUW was founded in 1884 with the idea that higher education is for everyone. Today, their mission remains the same. The W has been recognized as one of America’s Best Bang for the Buck Colleges with national rankings, small class sizes and unique programs.

Despite being called the Women’s University, the school began accepting men in 1982. The W has specialized in courses related to liberal arts, culinary arts, nursing, music therapy and speech pathology.

MUW is located in Columbus, Mississippi.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: