Stanislaus State ponders its name

09/04/2014 7:46 PM

09/04/2014 7:48 PM

A quick sampling this week found support for Stan State as the informal name for this town’s university.

Turkey Tech came in second, but it doesn’t stand a chance in the just-launched effort to rebrand California State University, Stanislaus.

President Joseph Sheley, in his annual welcome speech last week, said he would like input on the name over the 2014-15 academic year. He said the formal, four-word name would remain in official use, but he acknowledged that it is “a mouthful in everyday conversation.”

The Modesto Bee asked readers to offer ideas via email and Facebook. About 50 people responded as of late Thursday afternoon, more than half of them favoring “Stan State.” It is among the options, along with CSU Stanislaus, Cal State Stanislaus, Stanislaus State and CSUS.

Turkey Tech, not on the list, dates to the university’s early years in the 1960s. It was housed at the Stanislaus County Fairground, home to poultry shows and other events. Later administrations played down the moniker, which they thought demeaning to a place of higher learning, but it has its supporters.

“There is only one name that truly fits CSU Stanislaus – Turkey Tech,” Dan Burch told The Bee by email. “It’s time for the Stanislaus community to embrace its heritage as warrior turkeys.”

The term also evokes the turkey industry in Turlock, which started nearly a century ago and is still going strong at two Foster Farms plants.

The campus has had various formal names over its 54 years. It began as Stanislaus State College in 1960 and switched to California State College, Stanislaus, in 1974. The current name dates to 1985.

Starting the name with CSU helps identify Stanislaus with a respected statewide system that has sent millions of graduates into business, teaching, science and other pursuits. On the other hand, each campus is trying to stand out to applicants, and the location can get lost if it’s at the end of a long phrase.

Experts on branding say the fewer syllables the better, which explains the appeal of Stan State. It’s along the lines of “got milk?” which promotes another major industry in Turlock and is considered one of the best taglines in advertising history.

The Stanislaus State name discussion will be part of a process that also could result in a new logo for the campus.

“The most effective logo and naming processes are those that take the time to ask everyone’s thoughts on the matter,” Sheley told The Bee by email. “For a campus like ours, this likely will be a yearlong endeavor and will entail both formal and informal processes.”

A few readers suggested putting Turlock in the name. “Stanislaus is a county and is too broad to name as a location,” Bill and Judy Waterson said by email. “It would be as if Modesto Junior College were named Stanislaus Junior College.”

A few other highlights from the Facebook posts:

• Kara Cruz: “Stan State ... more consistent with others like Sac State, Fresno State, etc.”
• Laura Fong: “Please don’t call it Turkey Tech. It is neither a technical school nor is the mascot a turkey. CSU Stanislaus would be a great alternative.”
• Diana Ou: “I am an alumna of CSU Stanislaus. I have always referred (to) it as Stan State. I love Stan State!”

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