What’s in a name?

Recent renovations to Lake Inferior have sparked a contest to re-name the lake, an initiative that disappoints at least one member of Northern Kentucky University’s community.

“I believe it’s an insult to those graduates of NKU who took serious pride in establishing the name and traditions of the lake,” said Pamm Taylor, a mathematics professor. According to Taylor, Lake Inferior acquired its name in the 1970s though a contest in The Northerner. The name of the lake resulted from the student body and named by a majority vote.

Now the Student Government Association (SGA) and the NKU Alumni Association are sponsoring a contest where students, faculty, staff and alumni can submit proposals to rename the lake.

“It is newly renovated and the new renovations deserve a new name,” said SGA University Improvements Chairman Kate Brodbeck said. The goal is to connect people and have them feel like they have left a little piece behind when they leave NKU, she said.

Taylor said she’s disheartened because more of NKU’s history will be rubbed away when the lake is renamed. Some of the traditions Taylor remembers are already abandoned, such as the rites of spring activities that included tugs-of-war across the lake.

The renovations of Lake Inferior have increased the lake’s size and added walkways, a bridge and waterfalls; everything is set to open later this spring.

“There is now a new look and feel to the lake area, and SGA and others have wanted to start naming things that represent the uniqueness of NKU,” Dean of Students Kent Kelso said. He said he hopes the lake ends up with a name that reflects upon NKU as the “Norse.” “This is another step (along with the new mascot, etc.) where we are beginning to establish some history, pride and traditions around our Norse theme,” Kelso said.

Suggested lake names are being accepted through April 14. Brodbeck recommended that an explanation of 100 words or less accompany each proposal and should explain the significance of the name and how it represents NKU.

After all entries are submitted, the lake-naming committee will vote on the top five names and post them on NKU’s Web site. The NKU community can vote on the top five names from April 24 to May 5. The name receiving the most votes will need to be approved by President James Votruba and the Board of Regents before becoming the official name of the lake.

The winner of the contest will receive a $250 gift certificate to the NKU bookstore and the top five names will receive $20 gift certificates to the bookstore.

The winner of the lake will be announced at the lake dedication which is anticipated to take place next spring.