The Michael B. STC?
Early this summer, President Emeritus Michael Alexander received a surprise as he discovered the Science and Technology Center (STC) would be renamed in his honor. His retirement came after 16 years in the role. Alexander is a figure much deserving of honor on this campus, that cannot be denied, but the decision to name this entire building after him may be shortsighted.
Naming a building after a man seems like a great idea in spirit. In fact, with the STC being the most recently constructed building on campus in his tenure, it is a natural choice to honor him. The trouble comes when considering all of the other people who played critical roles in the building’s creation. What about, for example, all of the donors that made the building possible? The school put all of these people and families on plaques displayed proudly at the entrance to the building, only to overshadow them all with one man’s name. Further, think of all the professors and faculty in the science programs who had to work and fight for the space to be exactly what they needed and what it is today. Michael Alexander did a ton to secure such a great space for the school and the community, but he was not alone in that.
Another major issue for this renaming is the name itself. Repeat this, the Michael B. Alexander Science and Technology Center (MBASTC). Now say that three times fast. If the name of your building is nearly a full line in Arial size 12 font, you have to understand that it is just too long. If you need a stock ticker to comfortably display the building’s name above its entrance, it is too long. Where the Michael B. STC truly comes into a problem is branding. The MBASTC is far too long for anyone to say in conversation, especially considering the building previously went by an acronym. At least the Joan C. Weiler Arnow Campus Center was able to shorten to Arnow. The school cannot properly honor the man if nobody says his part of the name.
It is important to acknowledge Alexander’s accomplishments. With 16 years of service, he is among the longest-serving Lasell presidents. More significantly, he helped the school grow and expand in the face of many points of regional turmoil including the Great Recession, the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, and the Covid pandemic of 2020. Alexander deserves to be remembered, but this is the wrong way. Renaming North Hall seems more appropriate, allowing for better Alexander branding, and in a space honoring a number of other great contributors.
The MBASTC, however, was a wrong move. It’s a shame that the building was a prisoner of the moment in this case where an act of kindness was rushed and underthought. Had they waited a year or more, and allowed his departure to be more clearly felt, perhaps they would have come to different conclusions, and not given us a building name that takes a Star Wars-esque opening crawl to fit comfortably on a building.