Whatever happened to …

… the University of Western Ontario?

It was interesting writing the blog post earlier this week about COVID Visualizations and citing the source as Western University.

You see, growing up about an hour from London, it was always The University of Western Ontario or UWO for short. With relatives in the city and frequent trips to London, it was always impressive to see the incredibly beautiful old buildings. It was like the universities that you see in the movies. Classic.

When I was young, the mindset I had was that I would go to the closest university since I went to the closest elementary and secondary schools. I did learn eventually that you choose based on programs and I wanted Mathematics and Computer Science. There was only one place to go for that; other universities had great Mathematics programs but you had to take it through a Faculty of Science. I just wanted Mathematics. My choices were:

Waterloo accepted me and the rest was history. Still, UWO would have been nice since it was closer and I might have been able to commute. I eventually did attend the Faculty of Education at UWO for additional qualifications in Data Processing.

But, Western? It’s not like it’s the most westernly located university in the province. Windsor, Algoma, and Lakehead come to mind as being further to the west.

It’s got to be seen as a way of modernizing things? It’s not the only university to do a name change – there’s this university that calls itself Laurier although previously known as Wilfred Laurier University.

For a Sunday, how about some post secondary thoughts?

  • Do you think “Western” or “Laurier” provides a more modern presentation than “University of Western Ontario” or “Wilfred Laurier University”?
  • Do you have any other name change theories?
  • What was Wilfred Laurier University previously called?
  • Are there any other universities that have embraced a name change?
  • Universities are often known for things that stick out. What do you think of when you think of the following universities?
    • Guelph
    • Waterloo
    • Western
    • Laurier
    • Toronto

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

4 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Good morning, Doug

    Although a modern name is perhaps a little bit shorter and maybe rolls off the tongue more easily, I think there’s benefit to keeping a name that affirms the history and longevity of an institution.

    Ryerson University was formally known as Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, before it became a university.
    Similarly, the Ontario College of Art and Design changed its name when it became a university, to OCAD University. The Table is an amazing building to visit!
    Ontario Tech University is the brand name now used to refer to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

    Each of your prompts has an initial connotation for me:
    • Guelph – Agriculture
    • Waterloo – Math and computers
    • Western – trees
    • Laurier – my cousin went there, it would’ve been the first university graduation I attended.
    • Toronto – alma mater


  2. Can you believe that this girl from Northwestern Ontario was willing to attend a university that claimed to be in western Ontario? It really puzzled me at first! I remember that fairly recent name change as part of the “rebranding” plan for the university. “Western” was more commonly used anyway. Its official name is still what UWO stands for and is stamped on the degrees, etc. I think The Univ. of London, Ont. or The Univ. of SW Ont. would have been more suitable. Now “Western” and its Mustangs can seem very… western now 🙂

    I loved Western’s campus. I was probably drawn to the greenery and trees when I first considered it. When I returned on a visit to London about 25 years after graduating, I was still impressed. But so many changes! Of course, it means many things on mention for me now.

    I am not very familiar with the other universities on the list. I was on Guelph’s campus briefly one weekend and I think: Veterinarian school. I do think of computers with Waterloo, and also Optometry .. isn’t that the only Ont. university offering that specialization? Or did in my post-sec days?

    Here in the NW and in Thunder Bay, we often say “LU” for Lakehead. When I was at Western, I overheard a discussion between a few people about attending Lakehead U. for their B. of Ed. It was funny to hear, “But there’s nothing but trees and lakes up there”…. I guess I should have butted in… 🙂

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