The penchant for nicknames

Maybe we’re lazy. Maybe we’re just efficient or too busy. Or maybe it’s something else.

Whatever the reason, we all have a tendency to shorten names. Take Rhode Island. The official name is (take a deep breath) The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Really.  And then of course, there’s Wolf Trap — officially known as Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Imagine answering their phone.

Most people shorten names of people they know well. How many Roberts, Williams, Jennifers or Elizabeths do you know as Bob, Bill, Jenny or Beth?

Institutions do the same thing. At JMU, Gibbons Dining Hall is D-Hall. East Campus Library is ECL. And the newly dubbed Montpelier Hall has already been shortened to Monty Hall. Nicknames are efficient. They also imply some kind of familiarity, comfort and fondness. In fact, an old Chinese proverb says that a child with many names is loved.

It made me wonder what JMU’s recently re-named Skyline Museum will become. Officially, it is to be named in honor of Gladys Kemp Lisanby (’49) and retired Rear Admiral James W. Lisanby, the patrons who enabled the university to acquire the life’s work of famed and influential artist and set designer Charles A. Lisanby.

When I attended the opening on Monday and talked to Madison Art Collection Director Kate Stevens, she had a great idea. “What about The Lisanby?” she wondered. Immediately, I could see the comfortable words floating from student to student.

“Have you see what’s on display at The Lisanby?” or “I’ll meet you at The Lisanby?” Or maybe an enticing notice in mad4U that says, “Bring your favorite poem to read  by moonlight at this month’s Lunar Cafe at The Lisanby.”

The Lisanby.

Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It will be fun to see what the museum is nicknamed. Whatever name it takes, though, this new Madison location will definitely be loved.

The Lisanby

If you’re not convinced, then take a look at some of the photos from the opening, including the moment that Mrs. Lisanby learned of the honor. Stunning.

Or better yet, go take in The Lisanby. I promise you’re in for a treat.

The moment she heard....

And tell us, have you visited JMU’s newest museum?

You can learn much more on at these links:
(You can find even more photos of the opening on JMU’s Flickr site. Just click photos on the right side of the blog site.)

About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

2 Responses to The penchant for nicknames

  1. Curtisroth says:



  2. Greenbriar says:

    As a nickname, “The Lisanby” won’t survive a collegiate community … but, “The Lizzie” might make it. Compare “Monty Hall” which is wonderfully creative!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: