Names are funny business

Growing up, I had a nickname.  My parents called me this from birth, and everyone else followed suit.  It wasn’t until I reached my twenties that I realized I preferred my real name and began using it.  Nowadays, whenever I hear my nickname, I know it’s someone from my past.

Sometimes names and shorter forms (nicknames and abbreviations) can work the other way around.  I have only written Castleton State College on a syllabus or a recommendation, but I have frequently used CSC on the calendar or in notes to others or to myself.  At other times you may run across similar abbreviations.  For many years I taught at SVA, the School of Visual Arts in New York City, but for the past couple I have been involved with another SVA, Stone Valley Arts in Poultney.   There have been moments when I will hear SVA and think of my ten o’clock class rather than a fundraiser.

This fall is the first time that this 228–year-old institution, which has previously undergone nine different name changes, will be called Castleton University.   Will it be known as Castleton University or just plain Castleton?  Do you suppose it will ever be called CU?  (CU might make one think of Colorado University, or perhaps John Oliver repeatedly pointing his second and third fingers toward his own eyes and then out toward the audience.)   It will be newsworthy to hear how you, the students, refer to your school.  And at your graduation, be kind to those who are still calling your university something else.

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