There is a new, powerful guardian of the nation's second oldest institution of higher education. The College of William & Mary announced Tuesday that its new mascot, the Griffin - a mythical creature with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion - has arrived on the Williamsburg campus.
"The Griffin has joined the Tribe," said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley, who unveiled the new mascot Tuesday during a campus-wide event in William & Mary Hall's Kaplan Arena. "With its arrival, we now have a mascot that unites strength with intelligence, recalls our royal origins, and speaks to our deep roots in American history."
"After receiving a strong recommendation from the Mascot Search Committee and then seeing the idea prove itself during due diligence, I told the committee -- Get me the Griffin," Reveley said.
Last year Reveley appointed a committee of alumni, students, faculty and staff to coordinate the mascot selection process. The Tribe nickname remains but the committee's charge was to find a mascot that could serve as a unifying, fun figure on campus. And the new mascot had to look good on T-Shirts and in costume. The Griffin was one of five finalists (the others included the King and Queen, the Phoenix, a Pug and the Wren) announced in December by the Mascot Search Committee, which was chaired Terry Driscoll, director of athletics.
Tuesday's announcement has been anticipated for weeks. During a month-long public feedback period on the five mascot finalists, more than 11,000 people completed the mascot survey and the committee reviewed more than 22,000 mascot comments. In addition, a mascot website, www.wm.edu/mascot, received more than 47,500 visitors. The committee also used virtually every means of communication during the process, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a special mascot blog. The committee even heard from Colonel Ebirt, a green blob who retired his tri-cornered hat in 2005 after a brief, four-year run as the unofficial Tribe mascot. Ebirt (Tribe spelled backward) developed his own Facebook page and was featured in a YouTube video where he assured Tribe faithful that he had no plans to leave his relaxed and restful retirement.
The committee, Driscoll said, looked for a symbol that is as compelling and as unique as the university. It was important to find a symbol that symbolizes the strength and intelligence that are the hallmark of the William & Mary athletic program, he added. With the head of a bald eagle and the body of a lion, the mythical creature, like William & Mary, also links the history and heritage of the United States and Great Britain. The bald eagle is the national symbol of the United States and William & Mary is the alma mater of a nation. The lion represents the English Monarchy. In 1693, King William III and Queen Mary II created the College by Royal Charter.
"We considered the best symbol to help represent the academic and athletic excellence of our sports teams," Driscoll said. "When you put it all together -- the grace, agility, intelligence and strength -- the Griffin really embodies everything we were looking for in a mascot."