April 30, 1999

Revamped athletic logo rarin' to go


By Kathleen Holder

The UC Davis mustang, a campus mascot dating to the 1920s, is back--and with a fresh new look.

The white wild horse, featured in a new family of campus logos and marks, has been drawn to symbolize the qualities that students, faculty, staff and alumni say best describe UC Davis:

Dignity, class, strength, pride, quality, honesty, tradition, teamwork, cutting edge.

Athletic Director Greg Warzecka said members of a campus committee "felt it was time to bring our mustang back to life. We like this version. The mustang is bold, determined, upright and moving forward, just like I envision the university right now."

In the primary mark, the horse's profile appears framed by a blue horseshoe-shaped letter C on a gold background. The words "UC Davis Aggies" are printed in bold blue type underneath.

Among secondary marks are the horse's head from another angle and the horse galloping with the words "Go Ags!" superimposed. Another version was drawn cartoon-style to appeal to kids.

The new symbols, which will be formally unveiled at Saturday's Aggie Auction at the Pavilion at Cal Expo in Sacramento, were developed by SME Design, a New York brand-marketing firm that has designed logos for numerous colleges, corporations and professional sports teams.

The design firm worked for six months with a broad spectrum of campus groups to develop logos that students, faculty, staff and alumni representatives could agree upon.

UC Davis officials said they were happy with the process, as well as the results. Focus groups involved about 250 people in describing the UC Davis identity. About 30 people served on an advisory committee that reviewed proposed logo designs and suggested changes.

"I'm pleased because the process has gotten the campus leadership from several large constituencies behind the marks," said Bob Franks, associate vice chancellor for student affairs. "That alone is worth the money we spent."

Associated Students of UC Davis, the Alumni Association, Intercollegiate Athletics, UCD Bookstore and Student Affairs shared the $40,000 cost for the project.

The horse as a UC Davis symbol dates back to 1921 when the U.S. Army brought a stud thoroughbred named Gunrock to campus to supply high-quality stock for the cavalry. According to Ann Foley Scheuring, who is writing a book on the history of UC Davis, Aggie students later chose a mustang to honor Gunrock's fame.

However, the campus has gone for years without a unifying athletic logo.

"We've had marks," said Bob Kerr, executive director of Alumni Relations. "We've had water towers. We've had bicycles. We've had the block CA, with and without the mustang and wheat inserted inside the block C. It's just that there wasn't one that transcended all constituents on the campus over time."

In two student elections in recent years, undergraduates voted once for a cow and once for the Aggie as their mascot. But how to depict an Aggie presented a dilemma. And neither vote considered the opinion of other campus groups.

A banner raised after UC Davis won the 1998 national men's NCAA Division II National Championship illustrated some of the confusion over the university's identity. The banner read: "Cal-Davis."

Athletic team uniforms currently carry a variety of marks--from a script "Davis" on the football helmet to the letter "C" on baseball caps. "It's evolved over the years into so many different shapes and forms," said Larry Swanson, associate athletic director for external affairs.

The new logo will appear on team uniforms as they are replaced over the next three years.

"I think it's very important for us to have a unified symbol that we wear to our competitions," Swanson said. "We compete so broadly across the country. [With the new logo] I think more and more people will get to know who we are and what we're all about."

Brian Micek, a senior majoring in history and political science and a former Associated Students senator who served on the advisory committee, said he thought the mark will be important in academic recruiting as well.

He described the new logo as "very classy," dynamic and "something that visually asserts UC Davis as a modern research university."

"I think this mark really captures the tradition of UC Davis, but really has a visual appeal for the 21st century," Micek said. "I think people will grow to love it if they don't love it immediately."

Maureen Pon, UCD Bookstore merchandising manager and a UC Davis alumna who also sat on the advisory committee, agreed.

"There was a great deal of effort to hear everybody's view of UC Davis and to try to find common perceptions and common traits. I think SME Design did an excellent job."

Shirts, bumper stickers, mugs and other products with the new logo will be available for sale in the UCD Bookstore beginning July 2, Pon said.

Officials predicted the logo will be received positively. But while athletics, the alumni association and student government are adopting the symbols, officials emphasized that their use by the rest of campus is voluntary.

UC Davis holds the license for use of the marks. The typeface used in the lettering will be a campus trademark also. Royalties will primarily benefit the athletics department.

For information about licensing the new marks or using them in internal campus publications, contact Lynn Gore, trademark licensing coordinator in the Office of Student Affairs, at (530) 752-2026 or lhgore@ucdavis.edu.

To use the logos in external-audience publications, contact Jan Conroy, Editorial/Design director, at (530) 752-9839 or jconroy@ucdavis.edu.


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Dateline UC Davis is the faculty and staff newspaper for the University of California, Davis.