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Up Front May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Although I am usually happy to quote Shakespeare with thespian flourish, I have to admit that I’m in a quandary on this one. Recently some of you may have noticed that we changed the line on the cover of our magazine from “An Alumni Publication” to “A UC San Diego Alumni Publication.” And others among you may also have noticed that where possible, we have made the first mention of the University as “UC San Diego” and then used UCSD in the text. This change will be slowly integrated across the University and, though it may sound a little ponderous, there are sound reasons for it. For those who inhabit the world beyond our idyllic mesa, it is often difficult to distinguish the cluttered consonants that bedevil our California landscape: UCSD, SDSU, USD, UCSC, UCD, etc. I experienced this confusion myself when some unfortunate printer phoned to introduce himself, and then congratulated us on our USD law magazine. I had to tell him that he was one letter short of a Triton and that we did not have a law school (yet).

So as we grow in national and international stature we need to make certain that UC San Diego is properly identified. Clarity certainly dictates the necessity for name change and hopefully UC San Diego will smell as sweet as UCSD. But will it? Many generations of students have graduated under the banner of UCSD (along with their like-named t-shirts and sweatshirts), and many emotions and memories are fused into those four letters. Names have an emotional power. Experience gloms onto it and shapes memories.

Of course, this was not the first time the University underwent a name shift. In 1959, when it was first a gleam in the eye of the Board of Regents it was called the University of California, La Jolla. That lasted for 18 months until the Regents took the advice of the local community and changed it from UCLJ to UCSD. I wonder can anyone remember that brief moment when we were UCLJ?

Name changes have of course been the bane of our colleges. Third College students, more than any other, experienced the minor name-change confusion. They departed into the brave, blue onder of alumni-hood only to find out years later that they had in fact gone to Marshall College. Many were never able to transfer their memories to that new name and still refer to their college as Third. The same goes for Fourth and Fifth college alumni, who later found they had actually gone to Warren and Eleanor Roosevelt Colleges. Then of course there was the whole Lumumba-Zapata debacle—a stew of raw emotions and memories. I doubt that an oration based on “Any other name would smell as sweet” would have quelled the inflamed passions of any of those Third college demonstrations in the early seventies.

However, language is a process and English itself is a boiling cauldron of creativity and change. This year we celebrate the 400th birthday of the poet Milton. And according to the Oxford English dictionary he is the champion of neologisms, clocking in at a hyper-creative 630 new words, ranging from love-lorn to pandemonium. So our little nudge from UCSD to UC San Diego is small potatoes compared to that. And we hope that if it helps the world know exactly who your alma mater is, you will agree that we still smell as sweet.

Raymond Hardie
Editor, @UCSD Magazine

Rady's Edge


UCSD Alumni Association


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