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Farewell, Edison State College; hello Florida SouthWestern State College.
“To the community, we hope in time everyone will embrace FSW,” said college President Jeff Allbritten on Tuesday after the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve the name change.
At the meeting Allbritten also suggested purple as a new school color as it is represented in the new logo, created in-house by college staff, said school spokeswoman Teresa Morgenstern. The Buccaneer mascot also will be reintroduced, as the school hopes to offer intercollegiate athletics in the near future.
Edison State College reveals new name
Allbritten also proposed that the Lee County campus be called the Thomas Edison campus, to honor schools’s 51-year heritage and the man who inspired the name.
“I’m very proud we’ll be continuing to honor Thomas Edison,” Allbritten said. “This will go down as a historic meeting. Thank you for your support, your guidance and for believing in me.”
After a presentation on the history and reasoning for the name change, the board voted to approve Allbritten’s suggested name. While there was speculation the name change was to get away from a bad image and to rebrand, Allbritten said that’s absolutely untrue.
The impetus was solely the fact that a New Jersey school has the trademark to Edison and the potential for litigation was serious enough to merit changing the name, he said.
“We’ve been hearing that it’s sort of a shock to people because it’s something they’ve been used to for 50 years. But it’s not a question of should we do this, we believe it was the right thing because of the trademark issue. We are in direct conflict and with our online offerings, you can’t draw borders anymore, the Web doesn’t have boundaries,” Allbritten said.
For now, the name is being presented with SouthWestern, though Morgenstern said that may change. It lends itself to the abbreviations "FSW," officials said.
The new signs, which Allbritten said likely will be changed out over time, will cost about $300,000. No changes will be made until papers are filed with legislators and signed off on, likely July 1, if all goes well. Allbritten said the majority of that $300,000 will just be for cosmetic changes, down to switching out the names on trash bins across campus. Because the change is expected to coincide with the start of the next fiscal year, staff have been advised not to order anything more than they need in terms of paper products bearing the Edison name.
“We’re going to take a minimalistic approach — a lot of the materials where we’ll change the logo are Web-based anyway. We will be careful and plan accordingly and employees should use what they have until they run out,” he said.
The money will come from the school’s auxiliary funds — raised from things like food sales on campus — and will not come from taxpayers.
“Those funds couldn’t be funneled directly to students anyway,” Allbritten said. “We don’t want to pass an expense on to taxpayers, we’re not expecting the government to pay for it,” he said.
About two dozen student government representatives showed up in support of the name change. Jacob Winge, president of the Florida College System Student Government Association, said it is great to be a part of this historical change.
“I feel the name change moves the college forward in a positive direction. The only name that truly matters to the students is theirs on a diploma,” Winge said.
Before the name was released Allbritten said it was important the new name reflect the geographic reach of the school. Morgenstern said with all the counties the school pulls from, its reach is equivalent to the size of Massachusetts. Students agreed, saying it was important people recognize where the school is located.
“This name goes perfectly with that goal,” said Joe Garita, vice president of the Florida College System Student Government Association. “The school represents such a vast area, it’s very appropriate.”