Oakton Community College to change its name, but timetable not yet set

Oakton Community College is losing the "Community" part of its long-standing identity.

The Des Plaines-based college's board of trustees this week voted to change the school's public name to Oakton College. Its legal name - Oakton Community College District 535 - and charter will not change.

A date hasn't been set yet for launching the new name, Oakton spokesman Steve Butera said. College administrators and trustees will develop a timeline and process to implement the change and engage the community about the transition.

The cost associated with changing the name on buildings, signs, promotional materials, websites and elsewhere hasn't yet been determined, Butera said.

Oakton is a publicly funded college. With a main campus in Des Plaines and a satellite campus in Skokie, Oakton offers two-year associate degrees and certificates in dozens of subjects.

Some suburban community colleges, including Harper College in Palatine, College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn and Triton College in River Grove don't have "Community" in their names. Others, including Elgin Community College and Waubonsee Community College, do.

Officials began talking about changing Oakton's name in 2019. The conversation coincided with celebrations of the school's 50th anniversary that year.

"The board's discussion centered on the college's identity moving into its next 50 years," Butera said.

The decision to change the name followed discussions with students, staff members and community members.

Trustee Benjamin Salzberg was a proponent of changing the name. At a board meeting in June, he said he felt the word "Community" may keep students from attending Oakton because of perception and stigma about community colleges.

On Tuesday, the Oakton board approved the change with a 6-2 vote. Trustee Bill Stafford and Student Trustee Akash Patel voted against the plan, although Patel's vote only was advisory.

Stafford said the cost of changing the name was among his concerns. Oakton not offering bachelor's degrees was another.

Last fall, Oakton had more than 14,000 students in credit-earning or continuing-education programs. A current enrollment estimate wasn't available.

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Oakton Community College is changing its name to Oakton College - but a timetable hasn't been set. Courtesy of Oakton Community College
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