Limbert: Sallie Reneau most responsible for university’s existence
Columbus — Mississippi University for Women (MUW) president Claudia A. Limbert announced Reneau University as the new name she will recommend to the Board of Trustees for State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). The name comes after an exhaustive 22-month process that began with MUW’s envisioning plan.
Limbert said, “Sallie Reneau was a remarkable woman. More than any other single individual, she was responsible for us being here at this university.”
At the age of 18, Sallie Eola Reneau began the fight to establish a state college that was not just for the Southern elite, but was a place where “the indigent and the opulent” could acquire “the imperishable riches of a well cultivated mind.” In 1856, Reneau, who had recently graduated from Holly Springs Female Academy, presented a sophisticated seven-page document to the Mississippi Legislature and persuaded the lawmakers to charter a public college for women at Grenada. This seminal document “sent an influence upward to the higher social strata and downward to the lowest.”
Limbert added, “Reneau’s crusade for the education and elevation of women was a remarkable story and what she had long envisioned was at last achieved in 1884 with the founding of the Industrial Institute and College at Columbus, largely through the efforts of Annie Coleman Peyton and Olivia Valentine Hastings.”
MUW alumna Allegra Brigham, CEO of 4-County Electric Power Association and president of the board of the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link, said, “As an alum, I know the name change Dr. Limbert is recommending is difficult for some to accept. This decision is based on logic, facts and common sense and is a change we all need to accept to keep our university the viable institution we all love and cherish. The name change is an issue the local and statewide business community feels is important to the future viability of our university, our community and our state. It’s time for this process to move forward and to move forward with a sense of unity and urgency.”
Dr. Hank Bounds, commissioner of higher education, said, “It is important to recognize that we are in some of the most difficult times in the history of our country. It’s important that we look at every opportunity to ensure that this great institution continues to be viable. While changing the name is definitely an emotional issue, I think it is important that we look at what is best for the institution’s growth.”
Limbert will recommend the name to the College Board for its approval and then submit the proposed name to the Legislature in Jan. 2010.