A Christian school in Missouri discontinued to be represented by a Crusader mascot, citing its bitter history.
In a statement dated March 26, Evangel University (EU) announced dropping of the mascot which identified with the school since 1955.
"Evangel University's Interim President Dr. George O. Wood, its Board of Trustees, and the President's Cabinet have unanimously decided to retire the university's Crusader mascot," it began.
The statement continued with the words from the university president.
"The world has changed significantly since the 1950s, when the Evangel community, intending to depict strength, honor, and commitment to the faith, first identified a Crusader as the school's mascot. Today, we recognize that the Crusader often inhibits the ability of students and alumni to proudly represent the university in their areas of global work and ministry," Dr. Wood said.
The university further stated that the decision was made following "a lengthy and thoughtful review process" since 2007, including committees and groups comprised of staff, faculty, students and alumni. The groups' "overwhelming recommendation" was to retire the mascot.
Dennis McDonald, an athletics director, expressed his support.
"I fully support the decision made by Evangel to retire the Crusader mascot and identify a new mascot that will serve the university well in the future," McDonald said.
In conclusion, the school said that EU community will be requested for suggestions of the new mascot. A committee, consisting of students, faculty, alumni and athletic staff, will also be created to provide guidance.
In an interview, EU spokesperson Erin Hedlun told Springfield News-Leader that the mascot "no longer represents what the university stands for." She also said that given the number of their alumni involved with America and around the world, the mascot is not something they can "advocate for or support in their work" globally.
Further, she revealed that the mascot selection committee will already be set up this April. Online forms will be utilized for the mascot suggestions.
EU said the selection of the new mascot will begin "immediately," and all of its constituents will be able to offer mascot suggestions to the school.
"Our plan is to announce the new mascot at the start of the fall semester," Hedlun added. This will be around August this year.
Crusaders are fighters of the medieval crusades, a series of military campaigns organized by Christians, including the popes, in a bid to take Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims. Crusades started in 1095 CE, led by Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Pope Urban II. Seven more crusades would follow. The military campaigns finally ended in 1270 CE, when Louis IX died of dysentery while attacking Tunis.
Evangel University is a Christian university in Springfield that aims to educate and equip its students "to become Spirit-empowered servants of God," impacting the Church and society around the world.
It offers 70 academic programs, ranging from Biblical studies to biology, forensic science or finance. The school's Center for Compassion shares God's heart of compassion to the world, sending a total of 272 student teams to 71 countries for its mission trips.
The university's total student population is about 2,300. It is affiliated with the Assemblies of God Church.