As of July 1, California University of Pennsylvania will be known as Pennsylvania Western University-California following a unanimous vote Thursday morning by the board of governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

The new moniker is part of the integration of the administrative and academic functions of Cal U. with Edinboro and Clarion universities. The consolidation of the three western campuses was approved this summer and is happening in the face of rising costs and declining enrollments at most of the institutions within the PASSHE. Like Cal U., Edinboro will be known as Pennsylvania Western University-Edinboro, and Clarion will be Pennsylvania Western University-Clarion.

“The naming has been a thoughtful and data-driven process,” according to Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, the president of all three campuses and the leader of the integration. She explained to the board of governors at its quarterly meeting at Millersville University that before coming up with the name, they listened to “multiple stakeholders,” conducted surveys, workshops and carried out market research. A crucial point was determining what name would work best online, Pehrsson said, because that is how most students begin exploring colleges and universities.

“One name stood out,” she added. “We need a name that will be clear, distinctive and easy to remember, especially for prospective students and their families.”

The new name and accreditation for the combined campuses still has to be approved by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It will bear the nickname PennWest.

“This is a very exciting moment,” said Cynthia Shapira, chair of the PASSHE board of governors. “We are starting to see things actually happening. This is a great day for the system.”

Students at all three campuses are being asked to choose between three design options for the new logo that will go on billboards, shirts, caps and other items. The winning design is expected to be announced before winter break.

The three campuses will retain their athletics branding and mascots.

Lock Haven, Mansfield and Bloomsburg universities in the eastern part of the state have also merged. A name for that combined institution has not yet been announced.

Staff Writer

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. He serves as editorial page editor, and has covered the arts and entertainment and worked as a municipal beat reporter.

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