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Mascot Study Group
March 3, 2020: Board update on the mascot discussion
From: Neil Mortine, Committee Chair, Institutional Mission and Identity Committee of the Board of Trustees
I am writing to update you on the ongoing evaluation of the University nickname (Crusader) and mascot (Cappy), including the work of the Mascot Study Group, subsequent discussions and deliberations by the Board of Trustees, and the timeline for decision-making.
As you may be aware, in March 2019 the Mascot Study Group began a process to consider the use of the nickname and mascot as a representation of Capital University, its mission and its values. The study group was created in response to concerns raised about the nickname and mascot during the strategic planning process and in a petition signed by more than 500 members of the Capital community. This group produced a final report that was submitted to the President (December 2019), the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees (January 2020), and the full Board (February 2020).
The Executive Committee asked the Institutional Mission and Identity Committee of the Board to review the final report of the Mascot Study Group and recommend a course of action to the full Board. Last week’s board meeting included robust discussion of the process, the report, the recommendations, and potential next steps.
An executive summary of the outcome from the Mascot Study Group is now available. The recommendation of the study group was to change the nickname and mascot with which the University self-identifies. With that said, this recommendation was not unanimous and a secondary position was also presented. The secondary position was to keep the nickname but clarify what it means and represents while also updating the mascot.
At the February meeting, the Institutional Mission and Identity Committee and the full Board had substantial discussion as they evaluated the two positions in the context of five major areas: value of tradition; practicality of reframing meaning; institutional risks/opportunities; ethical responsibilities; and appropriate timing. After much deliberation, it was decided that additional information was needed to ground a fully informed board decision.
The Board has asked University leadership to provide additional assessments of the potential institutional impact associated with both positions presented by the study group, including direct costs and opportunities related to institutional support, enrollment, reputation, and community engagement.
The Board will revisit this deliberation and work toward a decision at its June meeting.
On behalf of the Board, I want to thank the members of the study group for their thorough and thoughtful work. They were given a difficult challenge and managed it in a very “purple” way with open and respectful study, deliberation, and debate, grounded in the values of Capital. We acknowledge and applaud the work of this group, the quality of the process and the final report.
Thank you for your patience as we work through this complicated, emotional and important decision for the future of Capital University.
Executive Summary of the Mascot Study Group (PDF)
Please direct any feedback or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our values of free inquiry, ethical stewardship and open community call us to continually examine the language, symbols and iconography we use to present Capital University to our global world. As an inclusive community of learners, we are open to understanding and exploring concerns that have been expressed periodically about Capital’s Crusader mascot and its symbolism in our world today. Most recently, critical consideration of our mascot was raised in the strategic planning process, and again in a petition signed by more than 500 members urging examination.
We are committed to dialogue that is rooted in respect for all positions, regardless of the outcome. I have convened a Mascot Study Group to examine the matter from all perspectives. Co-chaired by Dr. Sally Creasap and Dr. Tanya Poteet, the study group is charged to consider the university’s use of the Crusader nickname and mascot as a representation of the university, its mission and its values. Members of the study group are:
I have urged the group to objectively evaluate all arguments on this issue, both pro and con, and use that evaluation to provide me conclusions and recommendations it believes would be in the best interests of the university and its constituents, defined broadly. If the study group determines that it is in the best interests of Capital to recommend a change, the study group will have the further responsibility to develop key principles to be considered in the separate process of making a change.
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The group will engage in an educational process of evaluation and deliberation informed by scholarly works, historical analysis, the experiences of other schools, and opinions expressed through surveys and personal testimony, as well as other appropriate sources of information. Broad input from our university stakeholder groups will be sought by the work group.
I expect an interim report on the study group’s research by April 30, 2019, and a report on the group’s conclusions and recommendations by October 31, 2019.
Thank you for engaging with the study group in this important self-reflection, and for supporting our effort to fully live our mission and values.