What’s in a (shared) name? Confusion, capers

Linda Miller (left) and Linda Miller
Linda Miller (left) and Linda Miller

Linda Miller and Linda Miller had coffee the other day at Marché Museum Café. A third Linda Miller couldn’t make it and a fourth Linda Miller had class.

And no, this isn’t the start of a joke.

There are four Linda Millers at the University of Oregon: One with the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, another with Admissions, a third with Campus Operations and a fourth majoring in music (she’s an undergraduate “Melinda,” officially).

There are also four Hao Wangs and four Mary Woods. There are two Andrew Marcuses – an associate dean and a chemistry professor – and two Shannon Roses (both executive assistants, to make matters even more confusing). There are repeat Robert Wilsons, double David Andersons, a trio of Christopher Smiths and a host of others at the UO with the same monikers.

All of these people, aside from sharing a name, share something else: The amusing experiences of mistaken identity.


Shannon Rose, executive assistant to vice president Robin Holmes of Student Affairs, knew something was amiss when people started congratulating her for running for Eugene Slug Queen. She wasn’t.

Turns out another Shannon Rose has entered the Eugene-o-sphere: Shannon Rose of Chicago, who also works at the UO, and also works as an executive assistant, to Executive Director Tim Clevenger of the UO Alumni Association.

The two Shannons have yet to be involved in a miscommunication that sends Robin to a meeting meant for Tim, or vice-versa. But Shannon-assistant-to-Robin, who has been with the UO for 12 years, was so intrigued by the development that she set up a lunch date to meet Shannon-assistant-to-Tim.

The twin Shannon Roses got along like old friends, which, given their names, perhaps wasn’t surprising. One way to tell them apart: Shannon-assistant-to-Tim is an early riser; Shannon-assistant-to-Robin … not so much.

Or, when dealing with email, consider that Shannon-assistant-to-Tim goes by shannonr@uoregon.edu while Shannon-assistant-to-Robin goes by roses@uoregon.edu.

When in doubt, she added, “just type ‘roses.’”


“Just lately it seems to have gotten a lot worse,” mused Andrew Marcus, associate dean of Social Sciences, describing email confusion. “It’s the darn autofill on email.”

Andrew Marcus, associate dean (left), with Andrew Marcus, chemistry professorMarcus (marcus@uoregon.edu) and his doppelganger – chemistry professor Marcus (ahmarcus@uoregon.edu) – agreed that there can be inherent pitfalls in dashing off an email by typing a few letters of a person’s name and relying on autofill to determine who you actually meant.

Marcus, the associate dean, is also a geography professor; he related an experience once when a student seeking advising help confused the two – she set up a meeting with him and began talking chemistry. “It took about five minutes before I realized we were completely in the wrong place,” he said.

There are, however, instances where passing as someone else can be a real confidence-booster: “I enjoy taking credit for the gifts and grants that Andy gets,” Marcus-the-associate-dean said.

“And I enjoy pretending I’m somebody important in the College of Arts and Sciences,” laughed Marcus-the-chemistry-professor.


Linda Miller, who works in Admissions, never could have guessed her work would entail such an intimate understanding of facilities issues such as clogged toilets and pest control.

Until she started getting email meant for Linda Miller, an office specialist with Campus Operations.

“Someone wanted to know where to get an exterminator for their office,” said Linda Miller-of-Admissions (ljmiller@uoregon.edu). “They wanted her and got me.”

Linda Miller-of-Campus-Ops (lmiller@uoregon.edu), meanwhile, has been recognized for her four decades of service to the UO – which, of course, is actually the accomplishment of Linda Miller-of-Admissions (41 years in April).

“People are always saying, ‘I didn’t know you’d been here that long,’” said Linda-of-Campus-Ops. “No, sorry, that’s not me.”

The two recently met for coffee – that’s Linda-of-Admissions on the left in the photo next to this story – where they traded notes on the miscommunications that result from being one of the many Linda Millers at the UO.

Turns out, they knew each other before Linda-of-Campus-Ops joined the UO in 2000: Linda-of-Admissions’ friend’s daughter, Laura, married Linda-of-Campus-Ops’ son, Andy, and the two Lindas met during a bridal shower.

However, there are apparently worse things than being mistaken for somebody else. You could be mistaken for a celebrity, for example.

“My husband is Steve Miller,” laughed Linda-of-Campus-Ops, who then clarified that her betrothed is not the man who gave us the 1970s hits “The Joker,” “Jet Airliner” and “Fly Like An Eagle.”

“We get that a lot,” she added – “we get the ‘Steve Miller’ thing more than ‘Linda Miller.’ ”

-- story and photos by Matt Cooper, communications specialist, Office of Strategic Communications