Can I rename a SQL column without making a new table or relying on GUI?
The ALTER TABLE ALTER COLUMN SYNTAX supports either dropping an existing column or altering the type. But it doesn't allow you to change the name.
However, another command, sp_rename, will allow you to change the name of a column. It takes three arguments: the name of the object, the new name, and the object type.
Following is an example taken from the Books Online:
B. Rename a column
This example renames the contact title column in the customers table to title.
EXEC sp_rename 'customers.[contact title]', 'title', 'COLUMN'