Mascot Wins Decisive Victory Over Challenger

Feb. 11, 2009

The votes have been cast, the polls are closed, and the results are in: Temoc wins by a landslide.

Editor's Note: This story was written by UT Dallas student
Eric Nicholson and is being reprinted with permission from The UTD Mercury.

The tally was not even close, said Dean of Undergraduate Education Michael Coleman. Across every voting group, the Temoc character beat the other choice – a black, green and orange-clad space man character – by a ratio of 2-to-1. Of more than 3,600 votes cast during the week-long survey of students, faculty, staff and alumni, Temoc received 68 percent.

Vice President for Student Affairs Darrelene Rachavong said she was surprised by the results.

“I really thought the space man was going to win,” she said.

The two choices presented in the survey were the end result of a 16-month process aimed at choosing a new mascot. A mascot search committee, formed in November 2007, generated a wide range of ideas that were subsequently narrowed down through internal deliberation and campus-wide surveys.

This was the third campus poll on the mascot. During the first meeting, conducted in January 2008, students opted to keep the Comet name. In a May 2008 follow-up, a plurality of voters chose to retain a comet-like mascot, but did not want it to be Temoc.

After the survey in May, the committee collected sketches and suggestions from students about what a new mascot should look like.

“We saw a lot of submissions,” said Karen Hinkley, psychology senior and member of the committee. “What we were looking for from (the submissions) was not to pick one as a winner, but to look for characteristics, ideas, things like that.”

From the drawings and suggestions it received, the committee compiled a list of characteristics for the new mascot, which was sent to Cowan Costumes, the company that manufactured both of the University’s Temoc costumes. The company produced a sketch based on the list of recommendations. When the final sketch of the mascot was completed, the design was put up against a Temoc character for a campus-wide vote.

“The last thing we wanted to happen was to have put in all this work to change the mascot and have students less satisfied than they were with Temoc,” Hinkley said. “We gave students the chance to make a decision once and for all whether they wanted to go ahead and keep Temoc, or change it to the best that we could come up with.”

Some students said they were confused by the sketch of the space man. Mishelle Kochumuttom, biochemistry sophomore, said the drawing didn't look like a mascot suit.

“It looked like it was just going to be a student wearing a spandex suit,” Kochumuttom said.

John Jackson, assistant director for undergraduate education and a member of the committee, said the space man was intended to have a typical mascot head and body. He said the committee had not realized the drawing might be confusing.

Regardless of the clarity of the drawing, Coleman said he is not surprised by the results.

“It seems to me (that) at each of the choice points, it's been pretty overwhelming in favor of staying where we are,” Coleman said. “So I'm not so sure that I would have been so surprised for that to happen again.”

Although the search was long and ended where it began, with the reaffirmation of Temoc as UTD mascot, Rachavong said the process was fruitful.

“One of the complaints through the years was that it wasn't as inclusive process as it should have been,” Rachavong said. “Nobody can say that this time. We’ve put those surveys out until people were sick of them, and every member of the community, all the different groups, had the opportunity to participate.”

The mascot search committee is slated to reconvene Feb. 13 to discuss changing the mascot’s name. Rachavong said there will be a campus-wide vote on a few potential names selected by the committee in the coming weeks.

After that, the search will be over.

“It was probably the most thorough investigation of what people actually want in their mascot that’s ever been conducted at UTD,” Hinkley said. “If nothing else, it really puts the research to rest like it never has been before.”


Media Contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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The Campaign for UT Dallas Mascot

While voters across the U.S. were still pondering the results of the U.S. presidential contest, the UT Dallas electorate was busy deciding between Temoc (left) and a space man character.

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