It may take him about a week and about $2,200 in gas money to drive from Virginia to Colorado to see the fruits of his labor, but it seems that no distance is too great for Ken Kambis, a professor at the College of William and Mary, who wants Colorado to name one of its mountains after the university.
It was recently announced that Kambis recently filed an application with the United States Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) to request that a mountain, currently and unofficially known as South Elbert, officially be granted the name “Mount William and Mary.”
William and Mary’s official website explains that Kambis, a professor of kinesiology and health sciences, conducted “extensive high-altitude research on the mountain” over the course of multiple trips and research studies.
Kambis unsuccessfully submitted an application to name the mountain back in 1998, but he believes that his first attempt failed because “there was a perception at the time that there wasn’t a significant relationship between the College of William and Mary and the state of Colorado.”
Not only is Kambis claiming that William and Mary is as deserving of the recognition as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton University — three East Coast universities that all have a mountain displaying their moniker over in Colorado — but Kambis is using a new strategy and is heading back in time, about 200 years ago, to find a worthy connection.
The new reasoning behind Kambis’s proposal is that Colorado would have never become an American state, had Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe not negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with France in 1803. Ultimately, the pair struck a deal which resulted in the acquisition of land stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and which included the region of modern-day Colorado.
The main connection — for anyone unfamiliar with William and Mary — is that Jefferson founded the university, and both he and Monroe were heavily involved in its early years.
“So without two of our most illustrious alumni,” Kambis reasons, “Colorado wouldn’t exist.”
Although both the USBGN and the Colorado Board of Geographic Names seem to be opposed to naming the mountain in question, Kambis is hoping to drum up support among Coloradans and is urging them to write to the Boards in favor of his request.
According to the USBGN, it will be about six months before a final decision is made.