On Aug 1, 2008, Tri-State University was officially renamed Trine University, as determined by its board of trustees after three years of deliberation. Trine President Earl D. Brooks II made a public announcement in May 2007 of the board's intention to incorporate the name of the Ralph and Sheri Trine family, long-term university supporters and partners, into the new name.

In that announcement, Brooks said that the university, established as a non-denominational normal college in 1884, has become a much more comprehensive institution with a broader education focus over the years. The name change will help the university re-position itself from the original three-state service area to "a world-class institution with an international reputation for excellence," he said. It will also help the institution differentiate itself from the many entities claiming a tri-state identity across the country, he said. Most importantly, changing the name will also alleviate any confusion about its private status by removing any reference to a state university.


Five years ago, the university hired an educational marketing firm from Minneapolis to help establish a reputation as a premier, private institution. The firm strongly suggested changing the name of the university because of the ambiguity the name Tri-State creates. An ad hoc committee was established to study the issue.

Using information supplied by the marketing firm and their own study of the issue, the committee determined that for Tri-State to become a nationally known private university, the name would have to change. Associations with the word "state" in the name could not be dispelled. The overuse of "Tri-State" for businesses locally, regionally, and across the country, and the numerous, unrelated "Tri-State" Web sites literally buried the university's identity as an institution of higher learning.

The committee's recommendation to make the change was brought before the board, which reached a decision to change the name of the university on Aug. 1, 2008. The board also agreed that any new name would include the name "Trine" in recognition of that family's past and present support of the University.

Dr. Ralph Trine is a 1961 ME graduate. He, his wife, Sheri, and their family are ardent supporters of Tri-State and northeastern Indiana. They are a local business family, and employ over 25 TSU graduates from the schools of business and engineering today. No other family approaches their record of support, engagement, leadership, and service to TSU.

The institution's evolution is clear. Its recognition in recent years as a comprehensive institution has led to rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

The university has demonstrated significant recent growth. Statistics provided by the Independent Colleges of Indiana show Trine is the fastest–growing private university in the state over the past five years, with an enrollment increase of 48 percent. In the past seven years, the university has completed a $90 million capital campaign, which has routed $45 million into improving the campus, programs, technology and faculty.

Questions and Answers

Why a name change?
In concert with its board, a committee, and The Lawlor Group, Inc., a leading higher education consultant, the university's leadership determined, over the course of three years, that qualities unique to the institution were not effectively conveyed by the name "Tri-State." To properly define the university as private and possessing of an international reputation for excellence, a decision was reached to rename it.

Why Trine University?
Mechanical engineering graduate Dr. Ralph Trine and his wife, Dr. Sheri Trine, have demonstrated unparalleled support to the university since his graduation from then-Tri-State College in 1961. Their affection for the institution as its single most significant contributors provided reason and logic for the needed name change, and the determination was made to rename the school Trine University on Aug. 1, 2008.

Why name it after a benefactor or alumnus?
Benefactors and alumni have long been associated with private university names and renamings. Taylor and Kettering universities are just two institutions honoring an alumnus or significant donor with a renaming.

Will the school colors or mascot change?
The blue and white color tradition will endure, with slight changes. Taupe will be added as an accent color. "Thunder" will stay as athletic name, however a new mascot to replace Thor is being considered.

What will the Trine Web address and Email address extensions be?
Effective August 1, the university's home page will transition to www.trine.edu and all university faculty and staff email address extensions will change to "@trine.edu."

Who was involved in the name change process?
The Board of Trustees
The Name Change Task Force
The Alumni Board of Governors
The Lawlor Group, Inc.
The Office of Admission
Enrollment and recruitment staff
The Office of Alumni & Development

What input have students, alumni, faculty, and staff and others had on the process?
A special task force comprised of faculty, staff, alumni, Board of Trustees members, and community leaders provided input from their groups, along with the Alumni Board of Governors.

Throughout the process, the university has tried to reach out to its various constituencies. Letters explaining the research, reasoning, and processes behind the name change went out to all alumni, current students, and parents in the months following the name change announcement. The university posted a Web site of frequently asked questions to give as much information as possible about issues of concern, and invited input from readers. TSU President Dr. Earl Brooks II conducted two all-campus meetings with students to provide information and create excitement about the new university colors, mascot, logo, and other outward symbols of the change.

What about diplomas?
Tri-State University alumni may request a Trine University diploma at no charge by emailing Debra Helmsing, the University Registrar at helmsingd@trine.edu. These diplomas will be issued after August 1, 2008. Summer 2008 graduates will receive Tri-State diplomas, but they may also request a Trine University diploma at no charge by emailing helmsingd@trine.edu. Students graduating after summer 2008, who have been attending the University under the TSU name, will receive Trine University diplomas. However, they may request a Tri-State diploma at no charge. For these requests, it would be best if the students emailed helmsingd@trine.edu when they begin their last term of attendance.

Will the name change and planned growth impact the small class sizes and close relationships with professors we enjoy?
No. While Trine University is planning for continued growth, the increase will not diminish our ability to provide top-notch instruction in an environment rich in interaction between students and professors.

Who may I contact for more information?
We are happy to answer your questions! Please e-mail Gretchen Miller, at millerg@trine.edu for more information.