Texas A&M-Commerce may change name to include Dallas. Some alumni, students opposed


Some worry Texas A&M-Commerce will move away from its East Texas roots if it incorporates Dallas into the university’s name.

Leaders at the Texas A&M University System are having preliminary discussions about a name change for the Commerce campus that would wave to its growing presence in the Dallas area, officials said.

The school has a satellite location off Central Expressway and offers classes out of Mesquite, McKinney and in Corsicana.

More than 7,000 people signed an online petition in recent days against a potential name change.

Including Dallas in the school’s name would “better tell the story of who we are” given the student population Commerce serves and “tremendous growth” of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, A&M-Commerce President Mark Rudin said.

“When I first got here, we were a rural unit university with DFW at our doorstep. Now we’re a DFW university with rural Northeast Texas at our doorstep,” he said.

Among comments in the online petition, many recalled how after the school changed names when it joined the A&M System in 1996, alumni who attended the school when it was East Texas State University felt a deep sense of loss. Now they fear it could happen again.

A new name would “diminish the legacy of graduates here by making it feel like a subsidiary of a subsidiary instead of staying as an institution that can hold up as its own,” one alum wrote on the website.

School officials stress that even if the name changed to include the city located about 65 miles west of the Commerce campus, they remain committed to serving rural communities.

“We will never forsake or draw our attention away from rural Northeast Texas,” Rudin added. “It allows us to simultaneously serve the rural and urban needs of Northeast Texas.”

The Texas A&M University System regents would have to vote on such a change. The board has not yet released its agenda for August, and it is unclear if or when the regents will consider it.

The possibility comes as the system expands its footprint in North Texas, including a Fort Worth campus that broke ground in 2023.

The petition opposing the change spread among A&M-Commerce students, staff and alumni in the past week.

“The proposed name change could disrupt the established brand identity and confuse prospective students,” read the petition created by alum Madi Lovett. Lovett could not be immediately reached for comment.

It’s crucial to keep the name “for the sake of continuity, tradition, and local economic stability,” Lovett wrote.

Some wondered whether the Dallas location of the school would be considered the main campus. That site offers classes in select programs for local students. It currently occupies two floors of a commercial building but is soon expanding by adding two additional floors.

Rudin stressed that the Commerce campus, which includes dozens of academic buildings and 7 residence halls, would not become the satellite.

A&M-Commerce first opened its doors in 1889 as East Texas Normal College in Cooper. After being destroyed by a fire in 1894, the college moved to its current location in Commerce. The institution’s name changed five times — all but the latest including East Texas.

Rudin said he planned to meet with various groups across the campus community this week to “bring them up to speed and correct some misinformation that’s out there and let them know what I know.”

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