From 1927 until 1964 the institution was known as the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (MCMT).
A new State of Michigan Constitution was adopted by the MI Constitutional Convention on August 1, 1962. The vote to ratify the new constitution was certified on June 20, 1963 (with 50.2% in favor, 49.8% against). That constitution refers to the Michigan College of Science and Technology in Article VIII, Sec 4, and was to take effect January 1, 1964. The Tech Board of Control had discussed the name change issue prior to this but deferred any action until after the vote on the new constitution.
On October 11, 1963, the Tech Board of Control was given two resolutions, one to change the name to Michigan College of Science and Technology (MCST) and one to change to Michigan Technological University (MTU). The resolution to change to MCST passed and the one for MTU was not acted upon. The resolution called for the name change to take effect “on January 1, 1964” and to remain “the official name until such time as the Board of Control may select and adopt another name.” However it is not clear that the Tech Board of Control had the authority to change the name of the institution.
There was no mention of the Board’s action in the newspapers for some time. The first seems to have been almost a month later in the Student Newspaper, The Lode. Following that, a large number of articles, editorials, and letters to the editor appeared pushing for the “University” designation.
On December 3rd, 1963, Senate Bill 1016 and House Bill 56 were introduced to the second extra session of the Michigan Legislature. These were identical bills which renamed MCMT to MCST and increased the size of the Board of Control. House Bill 56 was later amended in committee to change the name to MTU rather than to MCST. As originally introduced, these bills were to take effect “on January 1, 1964.”
Also early in December Senate Bill 1008 was introduced which, after amendment, renamed MCMT to MTU.
House Bill 56 (as amended) and Senate Bill 1008 passed and ended up as public acts 21 and 49. Senate Bill 1016 was never passed, presumably because the identical House Bill had already passed. Public act 21 also changes the names of Ferris Institute to Ferris State College, and Grand Valley College to Grand Valley State College.
The wording regarding the name change is similar in public acts 21 and 49. Quoting from public act 49:
“The institution established in the Upper Peninsula known as the Michigan college of mining and technology, referred to in the constitution of 1963 as the Michigan college of science and technology, is continued after January 1, 1964, under the name of Michigan technological university, …”
The phrase “after January 1, 1964” was explicitly added by amendment. Possibly this was to avoid a constitutional crisis since the constitution was to take effect “on January 1, 1964,” with the MCST name. However, the wording in the constitution also included the phrase “… by whatever names (MCST) may be hereafter known.” How long “after” the name changes were to take effect is not specified in the legislation.
The bills were signed into law by governor George Romney on December 27, 1963 and were to take effect immediately. A picture of the bill signing can be found in the 1948 Keweenawan (the MTU yearbook), page 48, as well as in the local newspaper.
At their February 14, 1964, meeting the Tech Board of Control passed a resolution “ratifying and confirming” the name Michigan Technological University and ordering “that the name Michigan Technological University be used hereafter as the legal and official name of the institution.” Again, it may be the Board of Control overstepped its authority. At the same meeting they considered some new designs for official seals and insignia but postponed action until later. The minutes of that meeting indicate that President Van Pelt thanked the Board of Control members for their support for the MTU name which they had communicated to the state legislature the previous December, though no mention of the subject could be found in the minutes of the Board of Control’s meeting from December. Presumably the support was given as a private communication and not through official action of the Board.
In none of these is there any mention of Tech having the MCST name for one hour, or for any length of time at all, as a matter of fact. On page 8 of the Daily Mining Gazetteof December 31, 1963, before any changes took effect, is a brief report about some students who had purchased rings and sweaters with the MCST name in anticipation of that new name which never happened, and how the students were pleased, rather than disappointed, to have a unique artifact of the process. It is clear that most, if not all, regarded the change in name as being directly from MCMT to MTU and that that was the intention behind the legislation.
Whether or not the Board of Control has any name changing authority is also somewhat vague in the legislation. Within public act 49 is a statement regarding the powers of the Board of Control. After a detailed list which makes no mention of authority regarding the institution’s name, is the statement “All powers customarily exercised by the governing board of a college or university are vested in the board. The enumeration of powers herein is not deemed to exclude any of such powers not expressly excluded by law.” Since many colleges and universities have changed their name due to action of their governing board — a recent local example being the change from Suomi College to Finlandia University — perhaps the board does have name changing power.
Hence, it would indeed seem possible that, by a quirk, “on January 1, 1964” our name was MCST (due to the Board action on October 11 and/or due to the new constitution) and then the MTU name took effect only “after January 1, 1964.”
(More will be added here if/when it is discovered. If you have an artifact from 1963 with the MCST name on it, the MTU Archives would like to hear from you.)