What's In a Name?

One of the unique things about the B-School world is the nomenclature. Nearly every top school has multiple names – the university name as well as the “donor name” (often secured by a handsome gift numbering in the many hundreds of millions of dollars). The trick is in learning these myriad names and, even more importantly, knowing which one to use when referring to a given school.

Should one refer to the Business School at UCLA as “Anderson” or simply by the familiar four-letter acronym that appears on the university’s basketball uniforms?

How about that lonely-yet-prestigious institute in New Hampshire … are we going with Dartmouth or Tuck?

Penn is Wharton and Northwestern is Kellogg, but everyone knows those (I think).

If Duke calls to mind negative imagery like the recent Lacrosse scandal or even Christian Laettner’s haircut, you can just call it Fuqua instead.

Berkeley (which is already short for University of California-Berkeley) goes by Haas. Washington University is Olin. Vanderbilt is Owen. Michigan is Ross. And those are just the simple four-letter names!

More exotic fare can be found at North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) and Emory (Goizueta). One school (BYU) shares its name with the Marriott hotel chain. Another (Notre Dame) with a great baseball expression (Mendoza). Yet another (Virginia) with an infamous prosecutor (Darden). The list goes on.

So what to do with all of this info? Learn it. Drop it into casual conversations around the water cooler at work and at cocktail parties. Wonder aloud at how large the Harvard and Stanford endowments must be that they could resist lucrative naming donations. In other words, look like a genius.

And above all else, use the names correctly. Nobody wants to be the guy that goes in for his interview at NYU (Stern) and says how much he “loves it here at Sloan” (MIT).