This morning's NYT article on conflict at the New School mentioned a linguistic dimension (Lia W. Foderaro and Marc Santora, "To New School Critics, Their Leader Lacks Focus", NYT, 12/21/2008):
Even a 2005 campaign intended to help integrate what one professor called academic “silos” fell flat with names that made clear the programs were part of a larger whole but were tortuous to say: Parsons the New School for Design; Eugene Lang College the New School for Liberal Arts.
The institutions in question used to be known as "Parsons School of Design" and "Eugene Lang College". Although the new names are certainly longer, they're not exactly tongue twisters — if they're "tortuous to say", it must be because of their unusual syntax. (And of course the names of such institutions are always in practice reduced to a syllable or two, in this case "Parsons" and "Lang".)
My first thought was to wonder whether the article's assertion about these names is true. (I know that I shouldn't be in doubt about such a basic matter of fact in a New York Times article, but …) A quick glance at the New School's home page reassures me. The banner at the top of the page features this text, suggesting that the current authorities at The New School are comfortable with names of the form "X <determiner> Y":
Among of the eight divisions listed on the upper left of the front page, two are single-word proper names ("Milano", "Parsons") followed by appositive definite descriptions ("The New School for Management and Urban Policy", "The New School for Design"), while two are anarthrous college names followed by similar appositives ("Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts", "Mannes College The New School for Music"):
And the institution's News page includes headers like this one:
So now that the facts are clear, let's go on to the syntax.
Names of the form "X the Y" are common when X and Y are short: Henry the Eighth, Jack the Ripper, Jim The Wonder Dog. But with longer names, especially of institutional parts of a whole, it's rare to juxtapose a name and a definite description in this way.
Commoner methods are to add the parent institution as initial modifier ("USC Annenberg School for Communication") or a trailing prepositional phrase ("The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania"), while some institutions don't bother trying to integrate the parent institution into their name at all (e.g. "Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs").
Because The New School's name includes the word "school", these methods would also be awkward: X Parsons School of Design would turn into "The New School Parsons School of Design"; and Parsons School of Design of X would be "Parsons School of Design of The New School". The option chosen in 2005, "Parsons The New School for Design", might be even more awkward, but it's a close race.
"Parsons The New School for Design" strikes me as having a 17th-century flavor, but my attempts to validate this impression with book titles have failed so far, because the first few that I looked up had internal punctuation and/or syntactic articulation: