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A Piece of My Mind
May 10, 2000

Naming Names

JAMA. 2000;283(18):2357-2358. doi:10.1001/jama.283.18.2357

After the great Joe DiMaggio died, there was a minor swirl of controversy as to which piece of New York real estate would be honored by having his name bestowed upon it. Eventually, the West Side Highway got the nod, and future New Yorkers will have, in addition to a sluggishly moving presidential drive along the East River (the FDR), a baseball hero's memorial their cars can creep along beside the Hudson River on the west.

This debate turned this writer's own attention closer to home, and the way we have named our institutions of higher learning over the years, especially our medical schools and their components. Perhaps, in part, due to their high cost, many are state run and thus reflect this in their titles. This actually works fairly well most of the time, as prosaic as the practice might be, and one can always maintain that names, in and of themselves, are less important than the inherent quality of the institutions they identify.