On June 24, 2020 the Piedmont 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.