(alternate title: “I am a scientist. I arrange, design, and sell science.”)
Without a doubt, the “Iowa State University College of Human Sciences” is the most ridiculous name thought up in Iowa in the 21st century. Created in 2005 through the merger of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (which, if you’re old enough, was Home Economics) and College of Education, it has nothing to do with the hard sciences and very little to do with the soft sciences — that’s what the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is for. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is about as close as it gets.
And now, it’s brought us this sentence, courtesy of an e-mail from the Alliance for Iowa State: “Pamela White’s four decades of service at Iowa State have helped the world to define what it means to be a human scientist.” First, if she has, it’s because some focus group came up with it only a decade ago! Second, are we referring to the fact she is a human or that she studies humans? (What about cat scientists? Should we contrast with a plant scientist, i.e. one who studies plants, or may be a human-plant hybrid?)
The College of Human Sciences can serve a springboard for a list of the what I think are the other bad names thought up for Iowa entities in the past 15 years. The list starts with the contingent representing Morrison’s Law of Team Names: The popularity of a sport’s league is inversely proportional to the number of team names that are not plural nouns.
- Cedar Rapids Rampage, an indoor soccer team, which has now doubled down with an outdoor soccer team called the Rampage United. Like they do in Europe. Because it’s soccer.
- Iowa Energy, the NBA Development League team in Des Moines. I was going to say, “If you haven’t heard of them, don’t worry, no one else has either,” but the team set the record for D-League attendance in its opening game and broke it in the 2011 finals. Then again, that’s not saying much.
- Swing of the Quad Cities, which “was supposed to be a nod to the area’s rich jazz heritage” (so, uh, why not the Quad-City Jazz? Not a plural noun but at least a normal construction). Fortunately, the team is back to being the River Bandits.
- Area Education Agency 267 (Area 2, Area 6, and Area 7). Every other AEA merger resulted in a non-number name, except for this one, and even the non-merged ones have other names now. AEA 267 overlaps with much of the northern part of the Cedar and Iowa river watersheds — “Two Rivers AEA”, there’s a perfectly serviceable name, and an allusion to being in the Land Between Two (other) Rivers.
- Hy-Vee Heroes Game, along with its garish trophy, given to the winner of the Iowa-Nebraska football game. It’s big, it’s wood, it’s a manufactured rivalry (noble cause notwithstanding), and Hy-Vee dropped the Cy-Hawk series like a hot potato to create and sponsor it.
- Iowa Department on Aging, the renamed Department of Elder Affairs. Most state departments use “of,” not “on,” and take note of the acronym it makes.
- Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, shoehorning “Veterans Memorial” back in on the building only. Not so much bad as it is long/unwieldy and the replacement for “Veterans Memorial Auditorium,” which isn’t an auditorium anymore.
(This blog post was drafted before Tribune Publishing announced its name would be changing to “tronc” — yes, lowercase, even at the beginning of a sentence in the press release — a name that would have shot to the top of this list if it had been Iowa-intiated. As Charles Foster Kane once said, ”I think it would be fun to run a content curation & monetization company focused on distributing premium verified content.”)