July 10, 2008

House Vote Virtually Assures Name Change for NCSA

By James Romoser, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

Jul. 10--A bill to change the name of the N.C. School of the Arts has passed both chambers of the state legislature, virtually assuring that the school's new name will be "University of North Carolina School of the Arts."

The N.C. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the bill today, several weeks after the N.C. Senate approved it. Gov. Mike Easley is expected to sign the bill into law.

School leaders requested the name change earlier this year. They say the new name will emphasize the school's affiliation with the UNC system, and they think it will help with fundraising and recruitment.

"What this bill would simply do is add 'University of North Carolina' to the School of the Arts," said state Rep. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth, who shepherded the bill through the House.

But some alumni and others connected with the school have opposed the change, worrying that it will hurt the school's brand. It has an international reputation as a top arts school.

The school has declined requests from opponents to conduct a formal study on how the new name will affect marketing.

The new name was requested by the school's board of trustees and approved by the UNC board of governors, but it also required approval from the legislature. Despite organized opposition from alumni, it encountered little resistance from legislators.

The school, which is in Winston-Salem, was founded in 1963 as a public conservatory of the performing arts. It offers high school, undergraduate and graduate degrees.


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