‘No nickname’ is not a voting option for UND

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A mid-October vote to pick a new University of North Dakota nickname will not include an option for those favoring the UND/North Dakota option.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A mid-October vote to pick a new University of North Dakota nickname will not include an option for those favoring the UND/North Dakota option.

In a news release issued Friday, UND announced there will be five options for the university’s nickname: Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs.

“In deciding the final list of names to include in the final vote, I have reviewed the recommendations of the Nickname Committee, the additional input received from a recent student poll, and input from many other individual students (including student athletes), faculty, staff, alumni and community members who have contacted me,” retiring UND President Robert Kelley said in the release. “I have considered all this input carefully and, in determining the final voting list, have concluded that it is in the best long-term interest of the University not to use ‘North Dakota’ as the university’s official nickname.”

Since the NCAA threatened sanctions and the old Fighting Sioux nickname was retired in late 2012, the school has played simply using an interlocking "UND" logo, going by either UND or North Dakota. In September 2014, the school began taking steps toward picking a new nickname, and in July, the nickname committee forwarded the five names to be placed on the ballot.

“As I have noted many times, North Dakota is not a nickname - it is a reflection of our pride in who we are.  We have been North Dakota - UND - for more than 130 years, and we always will be,” Kelley said in the release. “I respect and support the process the committee used, and the extensive public input they gathered. In making this decision, I also respect their final recommendations.”


In June, Kelley announced he will retire no later than Jan. 15, 2016, and the North Dakota University System has formed a presidential search committee to identify candidates to succeed Kelley.

In the past several months, several groups have criticized Kelley’s leadership and the nickname selection process. Last Saturday, a group held a public rally to encourage Kelley to allow the next president to determine the new nickname.

Voting process

UND said the voting process will be conducted only online for about one week in mid-October. A specific date has not been set.

It will be open to current UND students, faculty and staff, UND retirees, alumni and donors, and current season ticket holders for UND athletics. To be eligible, current students must be enrolled as of Sept. 30. Donors and season ticket holders are eligible if they’ve donated or purchased tickets by Monday.

The release, issued at about 8:20 this morning, said eligible voters will receive an email with voting instructions shortly before the voting period begins. Current UND students, faculty and staff will receive the emails at their UND email address. Alumni, donors, retirees and all current season ticket holders must confirm their emails through a process, which will be announced.

Eligible voters who fall into more than one of the above categories - such as a staff member who is also an alumnus - may only vote once, and any identified multiple votes will be voided.


Qualtrics, a third-party survey technology provider, will conduct the online voting process, according to UND.

UND said Kelley received extensive input about who should be allowed to vote.

“One important consideration in the decision is the importance of verifying voter identity to prevent fraud,” the release said. “Each eligible voter’s identity and connection to UND will be confirmed.”

Nickname selection

For the first time since beginning the process to pick a new nickname last fall, UND provided details on how the public vote would unfold.

UND will assume one of five nicknames in the public vote if one of the proposed names receives a majority, or more than 50 percent, of the votes.

If no single nickname receives more than 50 percent, there will be a runoff vote between the two names with the most votes from the initial round, according to the release.


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