Allegheny College opposes Penn State's renaming McKeesport campus
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McKeesport officials aren't the only ones unhappy that Penn State University intends to drop the city's name from its local campus and substitute the word "Allegheny."
Richard J. Cook, president of Allegheny College, said yesterday he sees potential for confusion with his private institution in Meadville, Crawford County. He said Allegheny has asked Penn State officials including President Graham Spanier to reconsider, without success.
"When one refers to Allegheny in higher education, it's widely recognized that they are referring to Allegheny College," he said. "It's our brand, if you will, and Allegheny has had that name and this distinction since 1815. We've worked hard for it."
Penn State says the new name that is likely to debut next summer reflects the McKeesport campus's broadened role across Allegheny County. But Dr. Cook said the county served by the branch happens to be Allegheny College's prime county for recruiting students and is home to a large concentration of alumni.
If the Penn State branch becomes known in conversation simply as the Allegheny campus or Allegheny, it could have real consequences for his college. He said people often refer to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, simply as "Behrend."
Asked to comment, Dr. Spanier yesterday released text of a letter he sent to Dr. Cook assuring him there is no intent to cause confusion.
He said the public university branch and Allegheny College are vastly different, as are the profiles of their students. Those who apply to any Penn State location must go through the Penn State Web site, he said.
"We will never use 'Allegheny College' in any of our documents that make reference to our campus," Dr. Spanier wrote. "Moreover, we have no intention of ever using the title 'Allegheny' without 'Penn State.' "
Branch campuses often bear the names of the counties they are in, such as Penn State Fayette and Penn State Beaver, university officials said. They said they knew of no confusion between Penn State York and York College.
A decade ago, Allegheny College went to federal court with a similar complaint about the Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation. Asked if the school would consider a repeat, Dr. Cook called it a last resort.
First Published October 4, 2006 12:00 am