By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Apr 05, 2006 at 4:26 PM

Students and alumni will rally Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to change the name of their school. They plan to launch an initiative that will turn UWM into Wisconsin State University (WSU).

The rally takes place at Spaights Plaza at 11:30 a.m. And according to journalism professor Jim Price, it's all about the battle against the hyphen in "UW-M."

"As UW-M, we will always fail to inspire the greatest confidence in those wrote write the big checks for research grants," says Price. "We will never break into the exalted ranks of 'the top schools.' And people will always be surprised when we win a basketball game against a unpunctuated opponent."

But Price isn't kidding. He cites Michigan and Michigan State, Colorado and Colorado State, and Arizona and Arizona State.

There is precedent, he says. And all of the aforementioned schools have separate and unique identities that are rarely confused.

Leaders of the name change movement say UWM has struggled with its identity for years. They say feel this is their chance to "stop playing second fiddle" to University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In fact, UWM has already changed names three times. UWM was founded as the Milwaukee State Normal School in 1880. In 1927, the Milwaukee State Normal School became the Wisconsin State Teachers College. This school quickly dropped all of its non-four-year degree programs in favor of Bachelor of Science degree programs for education.

Once the Legislature empowered state colleges to offer liberal arts programs in 1951, the school's name then became Wisconsin State College, Milwaukee. And, in 1955, a measure, which combined the Wisconsin State College of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Extension Division, was passed. This measure, in 1956, officially formed the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).

Organizers are enthusiastic about the possible change and have cited that UWM recently passed UW in the percentage of enrolled state students. Students have pushed for a referendum on the name change, too.

But not every alum is in favor of a name change.

"Milwaukee is Wisconsin's great city -- it's what put us on the map," says Cari Reisinger, a 2002 graduate with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. "The people who live here and go to school here have Milwaukee pride, and in that sense, it would be a shame to lose the name association with the school. I feel like Wisconsin State University would too often be wrongly associated with Madison."

Whether it's a crazy idea or one with merit (and we're sure you'll let us know via the Talkback feature below this article), you're sure to hear more about the debate in the weeks to come. The group even has a Web site: