After heated debate the Missouri Baptist Convention decided Tuesday that Hannibal-LaGrange College will be transformed into Hannibal-LaGrange University, not the University of Hannibal as many wished. According to a piece by Bob Allen in the Associated Baptist Press:
The Missouri Baptist Convention renamed Hannibal-LaGrange College Oct. 26 to Hannibal-LaGrange University after alumni campaigned to retain the “LaGrange” part of the moniker.
College trustees voted three times in favor of the University of Hannibal [but]… a Facebook group titled “Hannibal LaGrange College Name Change” supporting the use of “university” while opposed to dropping the “LaGrange” portion of the name grew to 339 members. “Please don’t let our establishment lose it roots by naming it University of Hannibal,” group administrator Melissa Hawker, a 1990 graduate, implored. “Please make the name Hannibal LaGrange University.”
Well I suppose, though the roots of Hannibal-LaGrange, a 1,100-student college closely affiliated with Missouri Baptist Convention, are actually pretty shallow. Worrying about undermining the grand tradition of Hannibal-LaGrange College may be somewhat overstated. The school has already changed its name several times to reflect whatever characteristics it wanted to emphasize at the time.
In fact the institution has only been called Hannibal-LaGrange College since 1928. Before that there were two schools, Hannibal College and the separate LaGrange College, 30 miles north in La Grange, Missouri. When the Wyaconda Baptist Association founded LaGrange back in 1858 it was called the LaGrange Male and Female Seminary.
In 1975, Hannibal-LaGrange College became a four-year institution. In 2007, the college started to offer its first—and so far only—graduate degree, a master of science in education. It was this degree that caused the school to think that it might sound nice to start calling itself a university.