GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota’s new nickname task force decided on a broad goal at its second official meeting Thursday.
The committee approved a motion to provide UND President Robert Kelley with “a detailed written document by Dec. 31, 2014, containing an action plan for final selection of a potential new nickname based on input from appropriate constituents and task force recommendations.”
The group consists of about a dozen alumni, students, faculty and community members who have been charged with developing the process that will be used to pick a new nickname for UND.
The Fighting Sioux name was retired Dec. 31, 2012, and after a period of being known solely as UND, the school can officially adopt a new nickname on the first of this coming year.
“I think we’re a lot closer to being on the same page as far as our objective and what we’d like to see happen,” UND Student Body President and committee co-chairman Tanner Franklin said.
Even though the task force is not charged with coming up with a name, the goal the group decided on allows wiggle room for the option of providing Kelley with actual nickname suggestions.
The committee co-chairwoman, Sheri Kleinsasser Stockmoe, a UND alumna, said she feels like the majority of the community assumes the group is going to come up with a new nickname.
“I don’t think we need to pussyfoot around the fact that we might ultimately come up with, say, three to five nicknames to present to the president,” she said.
But the committee remained divided on the propriety of whether their ultimate plan should include nickname suggestions, with some saying Kelley’s charter for the group left too much up for interpretation.
“My take on it was President Kelley’s focus was on, ‘What’s the plan? How are we going to get there?’ ” said UND alumnus and committee member Karl Goehring. “I’d like to see the proposal represent that.”
UND spokesman Peter Johnson told the group the nickname they’re in charge of coming up with would technically represent athletics at the school, but could and should grow to embody the university as a whole. UND’s institutional logo would remain the green letters “UND” with a small torch flame.
Kelly O’Keefe, a professor of advertising at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter in Richmond, Va., is one of two moderators guiding the group. He stressed the importance of focusing on a nickname while disregarding things such as potential logo design.
The group will meet again Friday and work on developing a plan of action to move forward with developing the new nickname plan. This will include deciding which stakeholder groups to reach out to and the methods to take that action. The committee also has the option to go back and alter the goal they set at Thursday’s meeting.
“It’s clear this group takes its role very seriously,” O’Keefe said.