After 2,046 suggestions and 9,295 votes, Amherst has its first official mascot.
The Mammoths were selected from among five finalists by a vote of alumni, students, faculty and staff. The vote, held March 20-31, was ratified by three alumni inspectors of election.
During the initial submission process, community members identified the Mammoths as an “impressive,” “monumental” and “near mythic” option that would “speak to Amherst as fierce competitors.” They noted that mammoths were not only imposing but “also highly social, herbivorous animals, suggesting gentleness.”
Mammoths pay homage to College history, too. The Beneski Museum houses a Columbian mammoth skeleton discovered by Professor Frederick Brewster Loomis and brought to the College in 1925. Amherst’s archives include a drawing of a mammoth skeleton by scientific illustrator Orra White Hitchcock, wife of Amherst’s third president, Edward Hitchcock.
The selection process dates to January 2016, when the board of trustees issued a statement that Lord Jeffery Amherst would no longer be used by the College. A Mascot Committee of alumni, students, faculty and staff was assembled and charged with developing a method and timeline to select the College’s first official mascot. They adopted guiding principles focused on ensuring transparency, building community, maximizing participation and creating connections among students and alumni.
In fall 2016, the wider College community contributed 2,046 mascot suggestions. The committee then chose 30 semifinalists that best met the five-pronged criteria of being unifying, representing positive qualities, being broadly relevant and representative, working well for both male and female sports teams and having an ability to translate visually. In February 2017, the committee used input from 441 student and alumni delegates—who’d rated the semifinalists according to the criteria and alumni feedback—to identify the top five ideas.
“Affection for Amherst, and belief in what our College represents, motivated our committee during this entire process,” the committee wrote on April 3, “and we welcome the Mammoths as the new mascot for Amherst College.”
“On a personal level,” says committee member Alejandro Nino Quintero ’18, “what I appreciated most about the process were my interactions with alumni. There is something concrete in our shared connection to the College. Much has changed on campus in the last 50 years, but my experiences throughout this process and the success of the process itself are clear indicators of this connection.”
The new Mammoth logo will debut this fall.