Editor’s note: This column is offered a week before University of Michigan’s home football opener against Western Michigan University on Sept. 3 – as a public service to news outlets who are new to the UM football beat. It’s important to know how properly to shorten the university’s name. Nowadays, in most official communications the University of Michigan seems to use “U-M” as a shortened version of the full name. Here at The Chronicle, our preferred style is “UM” – we apparently don’t have a budget for extra hyphens. If we accidentally insert a hyphen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. For heaven’s sake, though, there are alternatives that should absolutely be avoided – even people 100 years ago knew that.
The University of Michigan was once disgraced with a nickname so disreputable, so slangy and vulgar, that an essay was published protesting its use. Even a newspaper in another city ran a disapproving editorial.
That nickname was “U. of M.”
In the April 1903 issue of The Michigan Alumnus, a former grad fumed against “the continued and persistent use of the compromising appellation, ‘U. of M.’” He found it coarse – unworthy of a great university.
“In the first place it is not distinctive enough, as there are several other ‘U. of M.’s,’ Maine, Minnesota, and Missouri being the most conspicuous,” he began, going on to excoriate the sloppy abbreviation.
He was not alone.