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INTERACTIVE: Baby names across the Commonwealth reflect demographic shifts

Government data shows how names rise and fall in popularity, reflecting demographic and cultural trends.

Capital News Service

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By Erica Mokun

Bye-bye, Betty. You were one of the most popular names for girls in Virginia when Betty Grable ruled the silver screen in the 1930s. But last year, you didn’t even register a “boop” on the Social Security Administration’s list of common baby names in the Commonwealth.

Mateo, on the other hand, has seen a meteoric rise. First appearing on the SSA’s list 20 years ago, it was the 46th most popular name for boys born in Virginia in 2018 — ahead of Robert, Jonathan, and Adam.

Mateo, the Spanish form of Matthew, has emerged in Virginia as the state’s Latino population has grown. Last year, 179 boys born in the state were named Mateo.

The most common names for male babies in Virginia last year were William, Liam, and Noah. The most common names for girls were Ava, Olivia and Emma. The SSA’s data, based on applications for Social Security cards, shows how names can rise and fall in popularity based on cultural and demographic trends.

“We see many more Spanish names rising through the charts in the U.S. as the Spanish-speaking population grows and people become more comfortable with diversity and interested in using names from their own culture,” said Pamela Redmond, an expert on the subject.

Redmond is co-founder and CEO of Nameberry, which describes itself as the internet’s “largest and most complete resource devoted to baby names.”

Baby names reflect what is fashionable as well as society’s appreciation for diversity.

“Baby names are completely barometers of who we are and what we like in a culture, ranging from our ethnic identity to our feelings about education and class to what we are watching on TV,” Redmond said.

The Social Security Administration annually tracks the names given to boys and girls in each state and has posted online data going back to 1910.

Some names stand the test of time. For boys, for example, James has been a top-10 name every year in Virginia; it was No. 4 in 2018.

Other names can fall out of favor as the decades pass. For instance, Shirley was the most common name for girls born in Virginia in 1936. But last year, it was given to fewer than five babies in the state — the threshold for being included in the SSA’s database.

Some names can suddenly surface and quickly soar in popularity. That is what happened with Liam. It first appeared on the SSA’s list for Virginia in 1985, ranking No. 138 with just five births. But by 2012, Liam was the third most common name for boys born in the commonwealth — and it took first place in 2017.

The data also shows what Virginia has in common with other states. Last year, for example, Ava was the No. 1 girls’ name in 10 other states, from Mississippi to Ohio, as well as in Washington, D.C.

According to the SSA database, parents today are drawing from a wider range of names than Virginians had in the past.

In 1910, parents having a girl chose from fewer than 300 names. By the 1950s, the SSA’s annual list had about 600 girls’ names. And in recent years, the number of girls’ names has hovered around 1,400.

For boys, the choices have been more limited: fewer than 200 different names in 1910, about 500 in the 1950s and fewer than 1,200 today.

Richmond resident Maya Slater, who is expecting her first child, has turned to resources like the SSA and Nameberry to find names that will stand out.

“I chose the name Raelynn for my child because I really wanted a unique name that I did not want all my friends to have,” Slater said. “So I downloaded an app, did some research on the name and went with it.”

Raelynn is relatively uncommon in Virginia. Last year, 88 girls born in the state received that name — so it ranked No. 72.

Redmond, who has written “Beyond Jennifer & Jason” and other books on the subject, noted that names can fall out of favor and then make a comeback. So don’t rule Betty out, she said.

“It’s getting just vintage enough to make a comeback, but we may not see it till the next generation,” Redmond said. “Names usually take four generations or 100 years to come back.”

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Richmond honeymooners camping out in Cape Hatteras parking lot after storm causes suspension of ferry service

A Richmond couple who planned to spend their honeymoon in Ocracoke, North Carolina has been camping out in the Hatteras Ferry Terminal parking lot after ocean overwash caused the closure of NC Highway 12 and the suspension of ferry service.

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A Richmond couple who planned to spend their honeymoon in Ocracoke, North Carolina has been camping out in the Hatteras Ferry Terminal parking lot after ocean overwash caused the closure of NC Highway 12 and the suspension of ferry service.

From the Ocracoke Observer:

Katie and Matt Oldhouser didn’t expect to spend most of their honeymoon this week in the Hatteras Ferry Terminal parking lot.

They are among those in about two dozen vehicles that have been waiting in the stacking lanes since Sunday afternoon hoping for passage to Ocracoke Island but were thwarted again on Wednesday.

A large wave swell from the passing of Hurricane Teddy well offshore has battered the Outer Banks. Since Sunday, the ocean has over washed the hot points at high tides at the north end of Ocracoke and the northern part of Pea Island between the Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe.

“While we’d hoped to be able to open NC 12 today, the ocean had other plans,” the NCDOT posted Wednesday on its Facebook page. “The road will remain closed between the Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe as well as on Ocracoke between the Pony Pens and the Ferry Terminal until at least noontime Thursday.”

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Education

UR President Ronald Crutcher announces plans to step down from post in 2022

Following a sabbatical, Crutcher will return to the faculty as a university professor.  

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Ronald A. Crutcher has announced his intention to step down as president of the University of Richmond with the goal of the next president taking office no later than July 1, 2022.

“As I considered the great disruption and challenges facing higher education due to the pandemic, and contemplated what would best ensure the success of a future presidential search and our institutional momentum, I decided that it was important for the University to have as much time as possible to effectively identify and recruit the next president,” Crutcher said in a letter to alumni, faculty, staff, and students.

“The Board is extraordinarily grateful for the thoughtful manner in which President Crutcher has approached his decision, announcing his plans now to ensure time for a successful presidential search in this challenging national and global climate,” said Paul B. Queally, the board’s rector. “As he indicated to the Board, the University’s momentum of recent years is too important to risk interrupting, and we fully agree.”

Crutcher will continue to advance a variety of critical University initiatives, including guiding UR through the pandemic and the uncertainty and disruption it has brought.

“This year will certainly bring challenges, but it will also offer all of us new possibilities,” Crutcher wrote in his letter. “In every instance, we must seize such moments as opportunities to advance our shared aspirations and dreams for the University — and to realize our goal of being, and being recognized as, one of the strongest liberal arts institutions in the nation. That work continues to encourage and inspire me every day, and I look forward to what we will accomplish together over these next two academic years.”

Under Crutcher’s leadership the University has achieved the following:

  • Enhanced resources available to faculty, including programs focused on academic leadership and the creation of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub.
  • The creation of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships and the growing record of students’ success in securing prestigious national awards.
  • An increased national reputation for academic excellence as evidenced by the University’s highest ever U.S. News & World Report ranking of 22 among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges for 2021.
  • Important attention to developing and implementing strategies to ensure greater diversity and a more inclusive community, as detailed in the University’s Making Excellence Inclusive initiative.
  • A more diverse faculty, with 36% of hires in the last five years being persons of color or international and 42% being women.
  • Increased pride among UR alumni, who are more actively engaging with the University and contributing to historic levels of fundraising success.
  • Outstanding new facilities for well-being and Athletics.
  • Renovations of academic facilities in the arts and in the humanities, including an expansion to Ryland Hall to develop a center for the humanities.

“We look forward to the further achievements that are sure to come under President Crutcher’s continued leadership,” said Susan G. Quisenberry, vice rector. “As he has indicated, he remains intently focused on what he intends to accomplish in the years to come, and the Board very much looks forward to our continued work together in this time.”

The Board will begin the search for the University’s next president this fall and will soon establish and charge a search committee to identify and recommend candidates. The search committee will include trustees, as well as members of the Spider community. Details about the search process, committee, and timeline will be communicated in the coming weeks. Input from the University community about the priorities the new president will be asked to advance and the qualities and skills most important to seek in candidates will also be crucial to the success of the search and the University’s next president.

Following a sabbatical, Crutcher will return to the faculty as a university professor.

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Downtown

City rolls out grant application for childcare and facilitated learning providers

Starting this week, neighborhood and community organizations from across Richmond can apply for a grant from the city to continue or expand capacity for emergency childcare and facilitated learning centers.

RVAHub Staff

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Starting this week, neighborhood and community organizations from across Richmond can apply for a grant from the city to continue or expand capacity for emergency childcare and facilitated learning centers.

On Wednesday, September 16th, Mayor Levar Stoney announced that he would reserve $1 million in CARES Act funding to support trusted providers from around the city. Providers will be able to use the funds to continue to provide care more safely or expand the number of slots available in their programs.

The application background information and materials are available on RVAStrong, here.

To prioritize the health and safety of children throughout the city, applicants are asked to provide various materials to ensure that programs have a plan to keep children safe and secure. This includes liability insurance, VDSS approval, and a COVID-19 policy and procedure manual, among other documentation.

“These neighborhood-based organizations are trusted voices in the community with a track record of caring for our kids,” said Mayor Stoney. “This funding should allow them to continue and expand that care now that working caregivers need it more than ever.”

“Our first priority is the safety and security of the children in care,” said Mayor Stoney. “It is incumbent on the city to provide safeguards to this effect.”

The application materials provide substantial guidance to support interested applicants in meeting the requirements. For example, detailed instructions on obtaining a VDSS exemption are included in the application.

Applicants may apply via secure Google form or through email.

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