Nickname Task Force pushes forward

Nickname, Logo Task Force plans to present President Kelley with detailed plan by Dec. 31

Marie Miyashiro (right) presents at a recent Task Force meeting. Photo by Nicholas Nelson/The Dakota Student.

The UND Nickname and Logo Process Recommendation Task Force made headway with its job at two meetings last week. The meetings allowed members to begin understanding what their tasks are and how to complete them.

The task force came up with a goal on the first day to present UND President Robert Kelley with “a detailed, written document by Dec. 31, 2014 containing an action plan for final selection of a potential nickname based on input from appropriate constituents and task force representatives.”

The first day of the meetings focused on the group questioning which stakeholder groups would be allowed to have input and what the nickname and logo would represent.

The group members had a hard time deciding which stakeholder groups would have a say in the process and how much weight those groups would carry.

“There are lots of insights from lots of people,” UND faculty and athletic faculty advisor Sue Jeno said. “They all have a stake in the university, but they are not necessarily the ones making the decision.”

The group agreed that faculty, staff, students, administration, a Native American representative, alumni, fans and the general public all should have some say in the new nickname.

“We need to give closure to feelings that are out there and give reference to and look at individual student organizations and members of tribal communities,” UND Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Sandra Mitchell said.

Jeno made the point that the logo would not represent the university but rather the athletic teams.

“That’s what it’s always been for,” Jeno said. “The flame is the UND logo.”

UND spokesman Peter Johnson agreed.

“The logo is a replacement for the Indian head, which is right on target for athletics,” he said.

Even though it will be an athletic department mark, members want the logo to represent the entire UND community. The committee agreed upon a proposal from that conversation saying, “the nicknaming process that we are putting together will produce an athletic department mark, but is relevant to the University of North putting together will produce an athletic department mark, but is relevant to the University of North Dakota as a whole.”

From there, conversation steered towards whether the group would be responsible for offering Kelley nickname suggestions as well as the process towards developing the nickname. That question would be answered at the beginning of the meeting on the second day by UND spokesperson Susan Walton, who spoke with Kelley after the conclusion of the first meeting.

“The president wants you to consider what factors are important in designing the process that leads to a new nickname,” Walton said. “The nickname will represent the university. It needs to be a credible, rational, solid, well-developed basis on how the nickname is developed.”

Walton also said Kelley wants the group to focus on who provides the input, what type of input, how it will be organized and considered, what criteria will be used to evaluate the input and how the decision will be made. He doesn’t want the group to focus on providing suggestions of what the new nickname will be, but instead on the process that leads to it.

After Walton spoke, the committee members split into small groups to discuss those factors and agreed that one of the most important parts of the process will be gathering comments and feedback from the various stakeholder groups. That led to the creation of three work groups: one that will develop the group’s outreach plan, one that will coordinate meetings with stakeholder groups and one that will create a survey. The work from those three groups will be presented to the entire task force at meetings later this month.

Legal constraints

With the creation of the work groups, the task force ran into legal issues. Because the meetings are subject to open-meeting laws, all meetings must be noticed to the public. Emails regarding the committee or private conversations about the work of the committee are prohibited by the law, so the task force tried to come up with ways of communicating with each other in a public forum.

Walton said her office would work to find an online tool for the group to use that would be open to the public.

UND officially retired the Fighting Sioux nickname on Dec. 31, 2012 after it was deemed offensive by the NCAA. Legally, the school cannot adopt a new nickname until Jan. 1, 2015.

The UND Nickname and Logo Process Recommendation Task Force was created in September by Kelley to begin the process of adopting a new name. Members of the group are:

Sheri Kleinsasser Stockmoe, UND alumna, co-chair

Tanner Franklin, Student Body President, UND, co-chair

Matt Bakke, UND alumnus

Jesse Fenstermacher, UND student athlete, Men’s Track & Field

Karl Goehring, UND alumnus

Chuck Horter, UND alumnus

Nikki Husfeldt, UND student athlete, Women’s Volleyball

Sue Jeno, UND faculty and athletic faculty advisor

Sharley Kurtz, UND Staff Senate President

Sandra Mitchell, UND Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Jim Mochoruk, UND Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor

R. J. Morin, UND student

Margaret Myers, UND Associate Vice President for Finance and Operations

There are also two professional facilitators for the group: Kelly O’Keefe, who is a professor of advertising at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter and Marie Miyashiro, who is president and chief facilitation officer at Elucity Network.

Megan Hoffman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].