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Monday, 20 November, 2000, 17:02 GMT
Beaver College to change its name
Beaver College
Beaver College was founded in 1853
Fed up with derisive jokes and dejected by a downturn in applications, staff and students at Beaver College in Philadelphia have opted for a name change.

Grey Towers Castle, Beaver College
Grey Towers Castle is the focal point of the college
From July next year, the college - founded in 1853 as a small, women's college in Western Pennsylvania's Beaver County - will be known as Arcadia University.

President Bette E Landman said the current name "too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarks pertaining to the rodent, the TV show Leave it to Beaver and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy".

Research carried out by the institution suggested it appealed to 30% fewer prospective students - just because of its name.

Explicit material

The problem has been intensified by the rise of the internet, as some systems - designed to screen out sexually-explicit material - blocked access to the college's website.

The institution - which takes 2,800 students - has been the butt of many comedians' jokes, even getting a mention on David Letterman's TV show.

In June, trustees decided enough was enough and voted to change the name, applying for university status at the same time.

We tried to go through every scenario. We've looked pretty carefully at it [Arcadia]

Bill Avington
More than 20,000 students, parents, staff and alumni were sent questionnaires about the name change and six possible names were discussed by focus groups in major US cities. Arcadia emerged as the clear winner.

Arcadia - a picturesque region of ancient Greece - "reflects our foundation and the kind of learning environment we aim to foster", the president said.

"Artistic, in a pretty setting, fun place to be, scientific, academically good, interesting, upbeat and prestigious" were just some of the comments uttered by focus groups.

As for potential double entendres with the new name, spokesman Bill Avington said: "We don't believe so.

"Certainly that was something we looked for. We tried to go through every scenario. We've looked pretty carefully at it."

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