12 MTSU Honors ducklings lead their own ‘hatch-uat...

12 MTSU Honors ducklings lead their own ‘hatch-uation’ procession

A monthlong wait was rewarded May 4 when a mallard duck dubbed “Ivy,” who chose to nest in the ivy at the base of the columns at MTSU’s Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, hatched 12 of her 13 eggs.

After finding Ivy and learning that her eggs were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, University Honors College officials summoned MTSU Police to rope off the area with yellow tape. Suitable warning signs also were posted to keep well-wishing bystanders, some of who had thought the mallard was in distress, at a safe distance.

Ivy, a female mallard duck, sits with her baby ducklings May 4 outside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. (MTSU photo by Marsha Powers)

Ivy, a female mallard duck, sits with her ducklings May 4 outside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. (MTSU photo by Marsha Powers)

The ducklings’ arrival corresponded with MTSU final exams for spring 2015, which meant a reduced flow of students into the building on the east side of campus.

The tiny newcomers also received an unexpected welcome when the bells in the building’s bell tower pealed twice — to recognize students who had successfully defended their theses, an Honors College tradition.

By afternoon, Ivy was leading her new brood across lawns and parking lots to a nearby pond, where they could meet their father and where fans hope they’ll stay and grow into adulthood.

Ivy’s welcome celebration also got a jump on MTSU’s commencement ceremonies, which are scheduled Saturday, May 9, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Murphy Center. More details of that highly anticipated event are available at

The hatching also corresponded with the announcement of the brood’s names. Honors College student Kyeesha Wilcox, a freshman global studies major from Smyrna, Tennessee, earned the honor — and a $50 award — for suggesting names for the ducklings that relate to the eight virtues engraved on the north side of the Honors Building.

Those virtues, which are part of the Honors College creed, are character, creativity, commitment, curiosity, discipline, faith, honor and integrity.

The ducklings’ names and their associated virtues include:

  • Valliant, for integrity.
  • Harper, for creativity.
  • River, for creativity.
  • Emery, for an industrious leader.
  • Jasper, for a keeper of treasure.
  • Spirit, for faith and spirituality.
  • Sage, or wise one.
  • Alina, for light.
  • Irie, for blessing or favor.
  • Cleo, related to glory and pride.
  • Hudson, for humanity, knowledge and creative ability.
  • Jada, for knowing, peace and harmony.

The second-place suggestions came from Colby Denton, who proposed naming the ducklings Mallory, for mallard duck; Dabble, for the mallard’s practice of “dabbling,” or feeding at water’s surface instead of diving; Muscy, for the Muscovy duck breed native to Mexico and Latin America; Mergie, for the merganser duck native to Europe and North America; Woody, for the common wood duck; Drake, a male duck; Waddles, Quackers, Trumpet and Peck; Preena, for preening feathers; and Loona, for the North American water bird with the distinctive call. Denton, who is from Georgetown, Tennessee, is a junior advertising/public relations major in the College of Mass Communication.

Birth announce72Three students tied for third place:

  • Samuel Hulsey, a senior Spanish and global studies major from Lebanon, Tennessee, who offered names for the ducklings for individuals known for ideas initially dismissed as “quackery” that ultimately contributed to human progress. His suggestions included Ptolemy, Miasma, Hubble, Perimutter, Schmidt, Riess, Rush, Colon, Vulcan, Aristotle, Franz and Halley.
  • Gabrielle Armour, a sophomore organismal and ecology biology major from Pleasant Shade, Tennessee, who recommended naming the ducklings after Ivy League and related schools, in keeping with their mother’s name. Her name ideas were Harvey, for Harvard; Stan, for Stanford; George, for Georgetown; Prince, for Princeton; Penny, for the University of Pennsylvania; Andrew, Camila and Ford, for Great Britain’s St. Andrews, Cambridge and Oxford universities; Virginia, for the University of Virginia; Duke for Duke University; John, for Johns Hopkins; and Northwest, for Northwestern.
  • Angelica Bennett, a freshman graphic design major from Nolensville, Tennessee, who also played off the mother’s name with related flora. Her suggestions included Daisy, Snapdragon, Daffodil, Tulip, Vine, Blossom, Lily, Aster, Rosie, Viburnum, Orchid and Buttercup.

The Honors College Facebook page features some brief videos of Ivy and the ducklings. For those interested, a group of ducklings is known as a “safe” when on land and a “raft” when on water.

To learn more about the Honors College, visit or call 615-898-2152.

— Dr. John Vile (, dean of the University Honors College