NMC formally adopts Hawk Owls as new nickname

Hawk Owl

Traverse City, MI — For the first time in more than 35 years, Michigan’s oldest community college has an official nickname.  Northwestern Michigan College, hasn't used a nickname since it last competed in intercollegiate sports in 1976.  The college’s iconic tree logo will not change, and there are no plans to reinstate intercollegiate athletics, but NMC has reclaimed a little bit of missing identity.  The NMC Board of Trustees unanimously voted to formally adopt Hawk Owls as the college’s nickname at their meeting February 25.

Hawk Owls pays a bit of homage to the college’s previous nickname, Tomahawks, and owls have long served as a symbol of wisdom.

The process of selecting a new nickname was deliberate.  Dozens of potential nickname suggestions were considered and narrowed to a final field of four:

Black Squirrel – A name long thought favored by NMC students, black squirrels are unique to the area and have a visible presence on the college’s campuses.
Bison – A nod to the symbol of NMC’s annual barbecue and to the large buffalo herds in the area.
Pine Marten – The pine (or American) marten is a weasel about the size of a mink whose candidacy was particularly supported by those who wanted a cute, child-friendly symbol.
Hawk Owl – Once common to the area, this rare non-nocturnal owl still does appear in northern Michigan, especially in the fall.  The hawk owl resembles an owl in appearance and a hawk in behavior.

Polls were conducted of students and staff at the PinePalooza event on campus, through the college’s employee and student newsletters and community-wide through NMC’s Facebook account.

The final results had the Hawk Owl with a commanding 36% of the vote, compared to 24% for the Black Squirrel, 23% for the Bison and 17% for the Pine Marten.

Next steps include creation of an official graphical representation of the Northwestern Michigan College Hawk Owl, and development of plans to create a mascot.