While brown remains popular for fashion and home decor it may be deemed inappropriate as a name for a Univeristy. Brown University's Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice is expected to release a report later this year recommending that the school adopt a new name.
In a recent Brown Daily Herald article James Campbell, associate professor of history and chair of the committee was quoted as saying "We don't just live in a black and white world anymore. In recent decades, the color brown has become too racially charged for a responsible institution like Brown to use as its name."
His statement made me wondered if the committee erroneously thought that the school was named for the color rather than to honor 1786 graduate honor Nicholas Brown Jr.who contributed $5,000 in 1804.
The Hearld article also mentioned another concern with brown in a quote from Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Ross Cheit, a member of the committee, "The name change isn't entirely intended to address issues related to slavery and racism."
According to Cheit, a Madison Avenue marketing firm told the committee the Brown brand has become too diluted. Wow, not only is the moniker racially charged but as a brand brown is weak because of the strong association of the name/color with other brands. While I can't imagine Brown University by any other name the brand identity issue may be a point to strongly consider if University officials find themselves asking "What Can Brown Do For You?" as they think about the pros and cons of changing their name.
Stay tuned to find out if Brown changes its
color I mean name. In the meantime I'm going to ponder the words of the great Winston Churchill "I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns."