The more than 1,200 students at Hannibal-LaGrange College will be attending a newly-named school Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the approximately 1,500 registered messengers at the annual Missouri Baptist Convention in Springfield voted to rename the college Hannibal-LaGrange University.
The change became effective immediately on Tuesday, according to Dr. Woodrow Burt, HLG president. However, the college may launch the name change on Jan. 1.
The vote to rename the college was nearly unanimous, Burt said. Why did the MBC vote on the name change? “The messengers of the (Missouri Baptist) convention actually own the college,” Burt said, “so any change in our charter has to be approved by them.”
The HLG trustees had been seeking a name change to establish university status, he explained, “because we have added more programs” including a graduate degree, a master of science and education.
“We are looking to add additional graduate programs, so we thought the name ‘university’ would reflect our accomplishments,” he added. HLG will remain a private university so the name change will have “no financial ramifications, other than we think it will help us in attracting more students.”
A committee of trustees had selected three possible names, Burt said. They were Hannibal-LaGrange University, the University of Hannibal and Hannibal University. The trustees selected University of Hannibal.
However, the convention chose Hannibal-LaGrange University, he said, to satisfy the many alumni, staff, students and college trustees wanting to keep LaGrange in the name.
“I am very pleased that the Missouri Baptist Convention took this action,” Burt said. “This is a name that connects our past with our future and reflects a commitment to even greater achievement as HLG continues to fulfill its mission in Christian higher education.
“This is a significant step in the life of Hannibal-LaGrange College, propelling us into a new day under a new banner, approved overwhelmingly by the Missouri Baptist Convention.”
The college will continue to be called HLG, since the initials will not change, Burt said. “That was of the pluses in making the change.”
HLG opened as the LaGrange Male and Female Seminary on Sept. 15, 1858, in LaGrange.
The college moved to its 110-acre campus on the northwest side of Hannibal in 1928, and the name was changed to Hannibal-LaGrange College.
It was a two-year college until 1973, when four-year bachelor’s degrees were added with limited majors, Burt said.
The graduate program, with a master’s degree, was added a few years ago.
This year, HLG’s 1,200 students represent 30 countries and 27 states, Burt said.
Burt is pleased with the school’s university status, “that verified who we are and what we’ve accomplished and where we are located.”