CLINTON, Iowa Nearly everyone in Mount St. Clare College's Durgin Hall slipped new white T-shirts over their clothes, and clapped in time with a snappy rendition of "When the Saints Come Marching In."
The shirts and song celebrated a time of great change at the private Catholic school, which broadened its educational scope Thursday by changing its name to The Franciscan University.
The new name follows a series of other changes, including the addition of several new majors and new educational partnerships with Notre Dame and Benedictine universities.
Bob Black, chairman of the school's board of trustees, said the university title was a logical next step.
"We needed a vehicle to propel the college even further into the 21st century," Black said. "This will meet the progress of the college, advance academics and further the reputation of the college."
University president Michael Kaelke said the school will continue its operations on a strong foundation of liberal arts, along with continued development of undergraduate programs.
That includes the creation of three colleges under the university umbrella, going into effect in September. Those are the College of Extended Programs, the Mount St. Clare College of Undergraduate Studies which retains the school's old name and the College of Graduate Studies.
Under the College of Undergraduate Studies will fall the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Business & Computer Sciences and the School of Teacher Education & Human Services.
Winter and spring graduates will receive diplomas that say Mount St. Clare College, but the name change for other purposes went into effect Thursday.
"We will experience a period of transition to totally complete the change," Kaelke said.
That transition includes watching the school's new mascot, a little St. Bernard puppy named Sierra, grow into an adult dog. The dog will attend sporting events for the schools' teams, which now will be nicknamed The Saints.
The hall erupted with applause as caretaker Christy Low, a faculty member, led the tiny dog into the packed gymnasium. As the band played, several students crowded around for a turn holding and petting the puppy.
Bishop William Franklin from the Davenport Diocese cradled the little dog in his arms, posing for photos. And as the celebration continued inside, workers rushed to remove the old Mount St. Clare College sign along Bluff Boulevard.
In its place, a shiny new sign engraved with The Franciscan University was placed outside.
"A name change is not about letting go," said Sister Marilyn Huegerich, president of the Sisters of St. Francis, which founded the college in 1918 as an outgrowth of Mount St. Clare Academy, founded in 1893. "It is about embracing the Franciscan mission in a new way."
The bishop called the change a "visionary move."
"I thank you for the energy, foresight and the ability to say, Yes, there is a future,' " he said.
Area educators, including Clinton School District Superintendent Randy Clegg and Clinton Community College President Karen Vickers, praised the school for marketing itself in a way that could expand educational opportunities in the community.
Clegg described it a "significant milestone for higher education in Clinton."
"These are changing times. The way we do business has changed," said Mayor LaMetta Wynn. "We all have to move with the times the way we run the city, the way we educate. And Mount St. Clare is doing just that."
Some students sitting in the hall's bleachers for the ceremony, including sophomore Shayla Franzen, were not sure what the change might mean for them, other than another name to get used to.
"It'll be different," she said.
Others, like student Tom Quinn, are looking forward to telling people they attend a university, rather than a college.
"I think it's great," said Quinn, a senior from Morris, Ill. "Change is always good. This will help out the school, the town, the county."
Mount St. Clare College's new name The Franciscan University
New school nickname The Saints
New school mascot A St. Bernard puppy named Sierra, owned by the university and raised by faculty member Christy Low.
When will the school change its programs to reflect the new university status? September 2003
When will graduates' diplomas reflect the change? Winter 2003.
Kay Luna can be contacted at (563) 243-5039 or email@example.com.