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Higher Ed Names: Collegiate choices from Augustana to Yale

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By Linda Rosenkrantz

June, the traditional month of brides, dads, and grads, is coming to a close, but there’s still a lot of post-Graduation Day college conversation in the air.

Of the 4,352 institutions of higher learning in the United States, many provide a rich source of name possibilities. And no, you don’t have to have gone to Yale to use it for your baby.

Here are 20 of the best:

Alfred University in upstate New York is the second oldest co-ed institution in the US. The venerable appellation Alfred is seeing new light as a path to nns Alfie and Freddie; hot British actor Freddie Highmore was born Alfred.

Augustana College is a liberal arts institution on the Mississippi River in Illinois. This name would make a novel approach and addition to the August name trend.

Benedict College is a historically black liberal arts college in Columbia, South Carolina, formed in 1870 with the goal of educating emancipated African-Americans. The rise of the versatile and mesmerizing British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is sparking new interest in this variation on Benjamin.

Bowie State University is located in Prince George‘s County, Maryland. Bowie has a Western vibe and musical cred via David B. (born David Jones). Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale used it as one of their third son Apollo’s middle names.

Clark University is in Worcester, Mass; there are others in Georgia and Washington. Clark, which still retains some Gable-ish charm despite Clark Griswold, now ranks at Number 456.

Colby is a liberal arts college in Waterville, Maine. The name has been a TV staple from the days of Dynasty right up to Numbers, and has been worn by several notable athletes.

Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa is one of the oldest law schools in the country. Most associated today with the single-named rappper (born Aubrey), Drake’s popularity rating is Number 285.

Drew University in Madison, New Jersey is known as “University in the Forest” for its woodsy setting. Drew has replaced Andy as the Andrew short form; Drew Barrymore made it a pink possibility.

Drury University is a private liberal arts college in Springfield, Missouri, established in 1873. Drury is of French origin, with the wonderful meaning of “dear one, sweetheart.”

Duke in Durham, North Carolina was renamed in 1924 for the father of tobacco industrialist James B. Duke, honoring his endowment. Duke is one of the titled names newly in the spotlight via the well-publicized baby of Giuliana and Bill Rancic.

Emerson College in Boston was founded as a “school of oratory” and is now the only 4-year college devoted exclusively to the study of communications and performing arts. Emerson has become mega-popular for girls as well as boys, with the girls leading 211 to 329.

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, near Little Rock. Hendrix has joined Lennon, Jagger and Presley on the Hit Parade of rock-star names, helped by its trendy ‘x’ ending.

Hunter College is part of the City University of New York. Hunter has been on the upswing for several decades, now at a high of Number 36.

Kenyon College, a small liberal arts institution in Gambler, Ohio, is known for its prestigious literary journal, The Kenyon Review. Kenyon makes a much more modern-sounding namesake for an ancestral Kenneth.

Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois has included among its commencement speakers Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Clinton. This old Scottish surname was revived by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for their son—the third to have an x-ending name. Knox is now Number 345.

Mercer University in Macon, Georgia was one of the few Southern colleges to remain open throughout the Civil War. Mercer is an attractive occupational surname with musical ties to songwriter Johnny Mercer, jazz musician Mercer Ellington and as the middle name of the son of rocker Scott Weiland.

Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan has counted among its faculty Sherwood Anderson, Ford Madox Ford and guest lecturer Gertrude Stein. Olivet would make an eminently distinctive addition to the Olive-Oliver-Olivia family.

Reed is a liberal arts college in Portland Oregon whose student body has included Emilio Pucci, James Beard, Ry Cooder and Steve Jobs. A sleek and elegant appellation, Reed is currently ranked at Number 321.

Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, was named for benefactors Henry and Betty Rowan. Rowan, which means “little redhead,” is growing in popularity for both genders.

Yale University, founded 1701 in the colony of Connecticut, was originally called Collegiate School, but renamed in 1718 to honor a gift from Elihu Yale. And yes, the name does carry that tony Ivy League image–which is not necessarily a bad thing. It has never reached the Top 1000.

Obviously, there are tons more usable possibilities. Is your alma mater here? Would you ever reference it in your name choice?

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