On June 24, 2020 the Piedmont International University Board of Trustees voted to change the University’s name from Piedmont International University to Carolina University. It took over a year and hundreds of conversations with a large variety of stakeholders and specific times of targeted prayer to discover the compelling name even though it was lying there in plain sight the entire time. The patient, methodical approach paid off, because the best name did not emerge until June 8.
The name that has been chosen is Carolina University. Carolina University is compelling for several reasons. First, it just beautifully rolls off the tongue, and the more you say it, the sweeter it sounds. Second, it is a big, powerful, bold name that feels truly aspirational. It is not a name to grow out of but a name that the University is growing into with strong enrollment growth, numerous new degree programs, etc. Third, Carolina plays very well for marketing and recruiting across the country and around the world. Market research across several countries on multiple continents yielded the same results. “Carolina” and “North Carolina” evoke affirmative connotations, and many reference the same three positive things when they hear it; Michael Jordan, First in Flight, and quality higher education. That is why over twenty colleges and universities include Carolina in their names. Of the most significant names that PIU leaders tested over the past year, the only one that unanimously resonated in every single market was Carolina University.
Also, having a neutral name better enables us to tell the powerful story about how seven Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries came together to create one strong university. Six of those have had their names and legacies honored in significant ways. During this process, a deeply important question arose about how to best honor Piedmont International University. The Board answered that question by creating The Piedmont School of Divinity (or Piedmont Divinity School) to honor Piedmont’s historic name and heritage of training ministers and teaching Bible and theology. Many Piedmont alumni will appreciate the continuation of the name and original mission.
My father was friends of Dr. Stevens many years ago so I have known of the Piedmont ministry and related church since. I served for 24 years at TTU & Seminary in Administrative roles and as Vice President from Dr. Roberson forward through many changes. I taught R.E. courses in the masters and doctoral programs on the heels of Dr. Gerry Benn, who recruited me to take his place when he left. I urged a merger when it was not a popular idea during the transition(s). It was deemed too progressive when the prevailing mood was regressive in the minds of many, I guess. Dr. Trachian promised to transition my DRE to a PhD with a few added courses, which I completed but never returned because of some prevailing attitudes he shared with his wife who had worked under me for a while. I applaud the change of name, the re-branding is a positive move, and I wish you well. John Waters
I am delighted to hear about the new name. It reflects the true meaning of universal learning. As a school with a biblical foundation, I believe that God’s Word is certainly universal and applies to all areas of learning. Hopefully one day I will be able to teach at Carolina University. I am most comfortable instructing at a school that promotes conservative theology and stands for righteousness. I am also thrilled to see that CU has added a criminal justice program. As a former sheriff’s detention chaplain, I confirm that we need more criminal justice professionals with a righteous backbone.
Excellent! Love the name change. I know the information and the quality of the articles posted here will not suffer and we are excited to see everyone in the near future (after Covid:) Thanks for sharing. Cheers. Dave.
Honestly this name and your rationale sounds like wanting to benefit from the University of North Carolina’s strong brand by choosing a very similar name and like you’re justifying this decision with achievements unrelated to your school or its predecessors — Michael Jordan and quality higher Ed — how are those related to CU?!? But I appreciate the honesty in admitting this change is just about marketing.