Higher Ed Names: Collegiate choices from Augustana to Yale

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 OliveOliverOlivia 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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13 Responses to “Higher Ed Names: Collegiate choices from Augustana to Yale”

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epowell Says:

June 25th, 2014 at 11:16 pm

I went to Baylor University in Texas and Baylor is still a favorite name of mine. Won’t use it but I do love it 🙂

linda Says:

June 25th, 2014 at 11:24 pm

@epowell: I came very close to including Baylor.

axps123 Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 12:17 am

***Prince George’s, not Prince George!

CsprsSassyHrly Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 8:22 am

I love the name Mercer. I had never heard of it as a name before an antagonist on Veronica Mars, but, despite this man’s villain-ness, I really fell for this name.

indiefendi Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 8:49 am

My aunt is a professor at Rowan University and I live near Bowie State! haha

SparkleNinja18 Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 10:14 am

Fort Hayes is a college near where I am. Hayes would make a cool boys’ name. Phoenix is another obvious choice.

ssterikoff Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 11:04 am

I had an acquaintance named her daughter Bethany, after Bethany College. They live in the UK, so I’m sure Bethany stands out amongst her peers.

indiefendi Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Btw Bowie is pronounced like boo-wie in Maryland so that might sound weird to people.

miloowen Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Bowdoin College in Maine is a fantastic liberal arts college with a cohort system. It was the home of both my ancestor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Longfellow taught there for many years before moving to Harvard. The Longfellow building there is beautiful, as is the setting of the college itself. Wadsworth is a family name — my father and grandfather were Wadsworths — and my model niece is Sasha Owen Longfellow….but Bowdoin would make a very interesting choice for a name.

namesage Says:

June 26th, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I went to Truman State University! I would definitely use Truman, mostly because of this personal tie. Really love the nn Tru.

ruolan Says:

June 27th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I really like a lot of these names, but not necessarily for their ties to academia… Drury and Olivet(te) are both names that I’d love to see more often and if universities can help boost them, I’m happy!

nativoyoung Says:

June 27th, 2014 at 7:53 pm

What about Brigham from Brigham Young University? We opted not to use it because our last name is Young, but it has a great sound!

kelseyfro7 Says:

June 29th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Also in the Quad Cities (where Augustana is located) is St. Ambrose University…Ambrose is a name that my husband and I wouldn’t use personally, but it’s a great name nonetheless.

Also, it’s cool seeing Knox, Drake, and Augustana all on this list. 🙂

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