The University of Central Florida has a lot of positive and distinguishing traits, but one characteristic may be unique in the nation.
In fact, let this be a friendly challenge to all of the other universities and colleges to see if any can match this curious UCF coincidence: Where else but UCF are there any employees and students whose surname – Knight – is the same as their university’s nickname?
On the UCF campus there are two employees and more than a dozen students named Knight, according to university records.
“When I am meeting with alumni, donors, friends, or industry, my name is usually the ice breaker in the conversation,” said Robin Knight, director of development in the dean’s office in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
The FSU graduate has worked at UCF nearly four years. When she applied, she remembers people telling her she was a shoo-in to be hired.
“People find it very ironic and jokingly say, ‘So did you change your name to get the job?’ I will generally respond by saying ‘yes’ and then jibe: ‘I told my bosses that I was willing to either be the mascot or development director.’ It’s always good for a little chuckle.”
She said she didn’t change her name when she married and now her 6-year-old son Ian’s middle name is Knight.
Student Jamie Knight said others around campus always respond positively to her name.
“All my teachers generally make some sort of comment about it first, and I feel that it has helped my classroom environment,” said the senior from St. Augustine. “I feel that it gives professors another reason to remember me.”
She said her name had no bearing on her decision to attend UCF, “but it definitely made it seem a lot more exciting.”
Both women occasionally wear Knights apparel to games and other events, and say that their university-related e-mail addresses are fitting because they have Knight in them.
Robin Knight said her “roknight” address could just have easily been created as “Knightro” – the name of UCF’s mascot that attends sporting and other events.
Looking retrospectively, there also have been 103 people named Knight who have graduated from UCF, and there are even two alumni named Knights.
How common could this situation be on other campuses around the country – with Knight or any nickname?
There are 10 colleges or universities in the country with Knight nicknames, several others with color variations (Black Knights, Blue, Golden, Green and Scarlet), and even a Fighting Knights.
The handful of those named Knight at UCF are from a campus of more than 58,000 students and where there are dozens of Knight variations of team names, places and services.
The second-largest school in the country nicknamed the Knights is Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., with about 1,200 students. Administrators there said they do not have any employees or students named Knight.
There’s the remote chance that other surnames could be duplicated by nicknames on campuses – perhaps with such actual school nicknames as Barons, Brewers and Griffins – but don’t count on finding anyone with the surname of Banana Slugs (UC-Santa Cruz), Crimson Tide (Alabama), Razorbacks (Arkansas) or Artichokes (Scottsdale Community College, Arizona).