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'Vintage' Camel will be retained for non-varsity uses

The College's redesigned athletics mascot made its debut April 5 in front of a cheering crowd of students, staff and faculty. The new camel was unveiled during a celebration of Connecticut College athletics, part of the College's Founders Day festivities.

“As a student athlete, I am beyond thrilled,” Devon Butler '10, a member of the women's track and field team and master of ceremonies at the event, said. "This new athletic identity comes at a perfect time, coinciding with all of our recent successes."

Watch as the redesigned mascot is revealed.

The redesigned camel is just one aspect of a new graphic identity for varsity athletics that includes a more collegiate looking type-face, a new official "CC” monogram, and a darker blue for uniforms. The goal is to strengthen the image of Connecticut College athletics with a more unified, consistent presentation of athletics teams and communications.

Designer Eric Rickabaugh, of Ohio-based Rickabaugh Graphics, created the new visual identity based on meetings with members of the Athletics Department; a survey of 1,445 students, alumni, faculty, staff and parents; and feedback from focus groups.

“Many athletes felt that the blue silhouetted camel that had been our mascot since 1999 didn't accurately represent today's athletics program,” said Vice President for College Relations Patricia Carey. “When we surveyed the College community, we got a consistent response. The vast majority wanted a camel that is 'proud,' 'strong' and 'dignified.'”

However, open-ended comments on the survey revealed a more nuanced range of opinions. Past and present athletes overwhelmingly wanted a fiercer, stronger camel, but others felt that the gentle, quirky aspect of the 1999 camel was a better representation of the College as a whole.

A selection committee, with representatives from Athletics, College Relations, Alumni Relations, as well as current students, reviewed dozens of proposed designs and variations. The designers also held 10 focus groups on campus and with alumni in Boston and New York.

“I was impressed by how thoughtful people were,” said Director of Publication Lisa Brownell, who managed the project. “In one set of designs, the camel's ears were back - but focus groups said it made the camel look mean. Another set of designs showed the camel with its head turned over its shoulder, but everyone was opposed to a backwards looking camel.”

One milestone was the decision to retain the 1999 camel, now known as the “vintage camel”, for uses outside of varsity athletics, such as student clubs and alumni activities. “No single camel design can represent everything our students and alumni feel about Connecticut College,” Carey said. “The vintage mark, since it is already established and recognizable, is a useful alternative.”

Since its unveiling, the new camel continues to spark debate, including on the College's Facebook page. The College adopted the camel as a mascot in the early 1970s, shortly after the first men were admitted. As a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference, the College competes in a league that has a long tradition of offbeat mascots, including an elephant, a mule, a polar bear and a bantam. Connecticut College is one of only two schools in the country with a camel mascot.

-Patricia Carey and Amy Martin

April 14, 2010