Today the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Culture, Mr Malcolm Crossman, announced a subtle but inspired proposal to change the name - or rather the pronunciation - of UNSW.
Speaking to an assembled group of higher education journalists, Crossman explained: “Uni of New South Wales has six syllables. UNSW has six syllables. At a time when the Minister is asking institutions to be more efficient, we have not obtained enough efficiency from the abbreviation of our name.
“We can do better. So, I am suggesting we change the pronunciation of the letter W from double U to align with other letters, like B, D and P, and pronounce our name as U-N-S-We, which has only four syllables.”
Crossman went on to highlight the origins of the change, its merits, and how it fits with global trends in education.
“I think it sets UNSWe apart,” he said. “What we are is in our name - our tagline will be: ‘At UNSWe, we start with U and end with We’.”
He described it as the most exciting advance in the University’s branding since the UNSWe yellow stripe was introduced about five years ago.
Crossman acknowledged that the pronunciation change hadn’t been his idea but had arisen from a marketing workshop as well as being simultaneously suggested by top academics in photovoltaics, climate change and quantum computing. “At UNSWe everyone’s a marketing expert,” he said proudly.
He also said the change aligned with global trends in higher education. “University nomenclature is seldom pronounced as it is written,” he said.
“In Oxford, Magdalen College is called ‘maudlin’, the River Cherwell is known as the Charwell and Aberystwyth University in Wales has a name that can neither be pronounced nor spelt. We are really just catching up,” he pointed out.
Critics have suggested that the University should focus on solving grand challenges rather than spending time and resources fine tuning pronunciation of its name.
However, Crossman dismissed these criticisms: “If we waited for the grand challenges to be solved we’d never get anything done. And besides, Branding is a global challenge. Isn’t it the major issue facing most large international companies today and isn’t it what they are spending their resources on? Surely universities should do the same?”
It is expected that the new pronunciation guidelines will take a full year to seep in but should be fully operational in exactly one year’s time - by April Fools’ Day 2019.