To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Stephen T. Hulbert, President
When I arrived on campus last July to assume the role of president of Nicholls State University, I came believing that I knew a great deal about this fine young regional institution. And, comparatively speaking, I did. What I did not know was that I would soon be involved with an issue that was emotionally charged for so many and yet such a “back burner” subject when compared to the great and exciting challenges that we face as an academic community.
At a meeting with campus student leaders late in November, the president of a student organization asked if it were not time to change the costume of our mascot. Because this was an issue raised by a student leader, the Student Government Association agreed to explore student opinion on the matter. Since that time, I have let the process take its course within the student body.
The mascot question received varying degrees of attention in the national and state media. Nicholls students handled the issue with general calm and dignity, and I commend them for that. SGA sought student input through the use of questionnaires, and the Department of Mass Communication conducted an open forum on the issue. Finally, the SGA President submitted the recommendation that the mascot not be changed but that perhaps it be updated to reflect current history.
During the time that the students were involved in the process to bring a recommendation forward, I sought further information about the history and background of our mascot. Several facts have emerged. First, the colonel mascot can be traced to the early days of this institution, when ROTC was a real presence on this campus and when the rank of cadet colonel was the highest cadet rank attainable. Second, over a period of years the uniform of the mascot has taken on similarities reminiscent of Civil War history.
Additionally, I learned that several years ago the University began to eliminate the use of the colonel caricature starting first with merchandise being sold through the Bookstore. No formal action was taken, however, to fully eliminate use of the caricature and the costumed mascot continued to be seen at athletic events. These are the facts as I have learned them.
It is my intention to move beyond the mascot issue in order that Nicholls State University may focus on the real challenges it faces: securing the resources to enhance our university’s future; making certain that we become an even more student-friendly campus when it comes to providing support services efficiently and effectively, helping to recruit an even greater number of highly-qualified students to this campus by fall of 2005, and modernizing our campus facilities so that our students enjoy a more appealing learning environment.
To that end and with the advice and consent of the President’s Cabinet, I have decided to retire the colonel caricature and the current mascot costume. The University will maintain the registration on the caricature mark.
The Colonel is and will remain the mascot designation for Nicholls State University and its intercollegiate athletics program. At some point in the near future, the University will employ the services of a branding consultant to help identify just how best to portray Nicholls State University to the broader community. I am confident that out of that process campus brands, marks and other imagery will evolve that are both more contemporary and more representative of the University in the twenty-first century.