12/16/13 — Mount Olive College to become university

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Mount Olive College to become university

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on December 16, 2013 1:46 PM

Mount Olive College has officially announced it will become the University of Mount Olive on the first day of the new year.

The name change is warranted, college officials say, after the school instituted an online master's in business administration program slated to begin in January with 25 students. The MBA will be the only graduate degree offered initially by the school.

"The timing is right to take on the title of university," MOC Board Chairman Darrell Horne said in a press release. "We believe the word 'university' more accurately reflects the current complexity of our academic programs and ultimately enhances the value of a Mount Olive degree for past, present and future graduates."

The name change was approved by the college's board of trustees at its December meeting on the heels of a survey sent out by the administration to measure students, faculty, staff and alumnus reaction to the potential change. The name change becomes official Jan. 1.

The email survey asked respondents to choose between three potential monikers -- University of Mount Olive, Mount Olive University or remaining Mount Olive College -- in response to the school's new 30-hour online graduate program.

The majority of respondents were in favor of the addition of university to the Mount Olive name, but responses were evenly distributed between "University of Mount Olive" and "Mount Olive University." The final decision was given to "University of Mount Olive" because of the "interesting ring" of the title, Kerstetter said.

As for potential nicknames, such as UMO, the administration is leaving that to the students.

"My experience with finding what students think is like planning for sidewalks -- where we think they should be is not where students think they should be," college President Dr. Philip Kerstetter said.

Designated as a Level III institution by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, MOC is authorized to award only three graduate programs. Currently, different departments on campus are vying to expand their programs into the two open spots. The announcement of those programs will be within the next year.

Kerstetter said  the name change will help the private institution boost marketing and branding in both the domestic and international student markets.

"In many places around the world, the term 'college' actually means high school. So 'university' in our name translates into greater credibility on the international front," Kerstetter said.

The name change will also help differentiate the MOC from Wayne Community College, Kerstetter said.

"Now, Wayne County has both 'the College' and 'the University'," he said.

This is not the first name change for the college. The institution first opened as Mount Allen Junior College in 1952 at Cragmont Assembly, the Free Will Baptist summer retreat area near Black Mountain. In 1956, after moving to Mount Olive, the name was changed to Mount Olive Junior College. By 1986, it dropped the junior in response to its growth into a four-year institution.

For those hesitant of the upgrade, Kerstetter assured that the core of MOC won't be nixed.

"Although our name will change, we remain a Christian faith-based, values-centered institution that offers a variety of educational programs that all have their roots in the liberal arts," he said.