Alma mater

The previous post discusses Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama.

Stevenson is, like me, a graduate of Eastern College in St. Davids, Pa. (So too is Doug Davidson, formerly of The Other Side magazine, whose interview with Stevenson I noted.)

We Eastern College grads now face a dilemma. A couple of years ago, our alma mater changed its name and its accreditation — it's now Eastern University. The new university includes not only the liberal arts school in St. Davids where I received my bachelor's degrees, but also the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, on City Line Avenue, which was a separate institution when I graduated from its MATS program.

The dilemma is this: what do I put on my resume? "Eastern University" seems wrong, because that's not where I attended. Yet "Eastern College" doesn't actually exist anymore.

I'd like to be able to say I have a master's degree from "Eastern University," thus avoiding the apparently frightening, resume-killing term "seminary." Prospective employers read that and assume one is a religious nut, both ordained and celibate. (I am not ordained. My celibacy is a hopefully temporary matter of unfortunate circumstance, not of taking vows.)

In any case, the new name — "Eastern University" — has the same disturbingly generic quality as "Eastern College." It sounds like something invented by a hasty screenwriter. ("Eastern what?" prospective employers tend to ask. Telling them "Just 'Eastern,'" doesn't enhance the prestige of my educational background.)

I'm sure there's someone at my alma mater who could tell me what the protocol is for pre-"University" graduates, but I'd like to keep that as a last resort. (More contact with the alumni office seems to entail more requests for money.)

Any suggestions?

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  • Patrick (G)

    I’d suggest doing something like
    Eastern [College/] University
    Because you are listing your Alma mater on your resumé to give your prospective employer a chance to verify your academic credentials. Pointing them towards an institution which no longer exists by that name does them no favors.

  • Laertes

    I’ve faced the same question. I graduated from what was then Northeast Missouri State University and is now Truman State U.
    When I list it on my resume I write Truman State since the idea, presumably, is to enable the reader to contact the school in question.
    When I speak of it, I just call it by the name it bore when I was there. Nobody’s heard of either so this isn’t much of an issue.

  • Lisa

    You could write:
    “Eastern College (renamed Eastern University)”
    “Eastern University (formerly Eastern College”

  • galnoir

    That’s funny, Laertes — I graduated from the same school, and I refer to it as Truman State in conversation as well as on my résumé, etc. However, I graduated right before the name change. Also, I’m still in Missouri, where most people know of the school (even if it’s a bit overshadowed by the Big 12 behemoth in the town where I live now).

  • nate

    Small world . . . a lot of the twentysomethings that got my favorite coffee shop started (from which I’m writing even now) are Eastern College grads. Fine people. When I asked one once how conservative Eastern was, he replied: “Well, when we graduated, we wanted to get very far away from there.” They have a certain tension — appreciation of a good education but frustration at conservatism — that as a grad of Calvin College I find very familiar.
    Anyway, I will enjoy telling them that one of the bright lights of the blogosphere is written by one of their number, and that blogging isn’t just a weird thing that I do.

  • Steve

    I’m with Lisa…best idea so far.
    And I’m speaking as an Eastern University graduate…Eastern College when I started…Eastern University when I finished.

  • Nate

    Strangely enough, I go by Nate, I graduated from Milligan College, and I can relate both to Eastern and Calvin graduates. At Milligan, though, there were definitely two worlds, one populated by humanities majors and the other by professional majors. BTW, Milligan is over in Johnson City, TN, in case anyone wondered.

  • Soaked with the grace of God

    One thing I love about the Internet is that on any morning you can be inspired by the life and work of someone you had never heard of before, with little effort.

  • Tell me about it!

    slacktivist: Alma mater (More contact with the alumni office seems to entail more requests for money.) When I wanted to get the records from my small, private, high school, they had this attitude of “Well, its been 7 years already….

  • Joy

    I can relate. I went to Eastern College (now Eastern University), then transferred Rowan College (formerly Glassboro State in the 80’s) which changed it’s name to Rowan University (in the 00’s) so it’s particularly explaining to people where I went… I document Eastern College and Rowan University, because those titles reflect the names of the institutions at the time I graduated/transferred.