September 29, 2023

Our Mascot: A Community Engagement Process

Dear Campus Community,

The question of whether the mascot name “Pioneers” represents the values of our community has come up more frequently in recent years.

The “Pioneers” name was adopted almost 80 years ago, in the early 1940s, when the college moved to its current location on Palatine Hill. Today, some members of our community feel affinity with the aspect of “Pioneers” that is associated with discovery and innovation. Others have fond memories of the “Pioneers” as a symbol of their alma mater. Still others feel that “Pioneers” is inextricably linked with settler colonialism. Some may not have any feelings about it at all.

Whether we want the “Pioneers” to continue as our school mascot and symbol is a question that deserves thoughtful attention and engagement. We must spend time talking to each other and, even more importantly, listening and learning from each other.

To determine a way forward, I have tasked a Steering Committee with leading the campus in a thorough engagement process on this topic. The Steering Committee will collect feedback and present an informed recommendation to me in Spring 2024.

In the coming weeks, the Steering Committee will reach out to campus to detail the ways that you can participate in the conversation through Community Dialogue sessions in October and November, and provide input through mechanisms such as an online survey. To learn more about the history of the mascot, the expected timeline and the Steering Committee membership, click here:

You are vital to this process. I am confident you will engage with each other and with the process fully and thoughtfully.

I look forward to the report and to the work ahead.


Robin H. Holmes-Sullivan