Elizabeth's grandmother holding her as a baby“That’s too long of a name for such a little baby,” my grandmother remarked when she learned my name was Elizabeth.

I think my grandmother would sympathize with the urge many people have to refer to our office – renamed last year to W&M Civic & Community Engagement – as CCE.

Long names can be cumbersome and take up character counts, so it’s understandable that we tend to create shortcuts like nicknames or acronyms. Plus, shortened versions often signify closeness and familiarity. I know we share something in common if you invite me on a stroll in CW or to chat on the Sunky Gs. Most of the people who call me Liz, Lizzie, or even Martha** are loved ones, and the nickname affirms our connection.

But not knowing an acronym can leave you left out. Would you understand that I was calling out to other former summer camp counselors if I told you how much I enjoyed working at CEPCTYCLIPBD?

That’s one of the main reasons that when we changed our name, I committed to using it in full. Core to our mission is building relationships, and I don’t just want to connect with those who already know us. I want everyone who is interested in contributing to positive transformational change and community-centered leadership to know us, including new students, faculty and staff, community partners and residents. And who we are is a lot easier to understand if someone says “Have you heard of Civic & Community Engagement” rather than CCE.

I’ll continue to do my best to use our full name and fewer acronyms in general, especially in public communication. To help build a larger, more inclusive community, I encourage you to join me.


*Let’s Use Fewer Acronyms

**Want to know the story of how I was called Martha for a few years? Send me an email and invite me on a stroll in CW or the Sunky Gs.

P.S. My mom’s response to my grandmother: “She’ll grow into it.”

Categories: Community Engagement & Service, Faculty & Staff Blogs

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