CMU's 'Scottie comes home'

Tradition wins out as university selects terrier for mascot

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Carnegie Mellon University eyed everything from robots to bagpipers in a quest by the 106-year-old institution to finally settle on an official mascot.

But in the end, informal tradition held. Put another way, the little dog won.

The Scottie dog, Carnegie Mellon's long-popular but never-officially-recognized mascot, finally will get its due on the research university that was founded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, a native of Scotland.

School leaders say 78 percent of the student body favored the image and 25 percent of the 400 alumni who responded to a survey believed the Scottish Terrier already was the school's official mascot.

Alluding to its presence for years at football games and other campus gatherings, Carnegie Mellon said in announcing the decision yesterday that it's not as if an outside candidate got the job.

"We're looking at this as a promotion," spokesman Ken Walters said.

In a posting on its Web site titled "Scottie Comes Home," the school said requests for proposals are being sought to develop a mascot design and related graphics. A new costume for sporting events will be created, too.

A highlander and Tartan plaid, images long associated with Carnegie Mellon, will continue to be used in various ways.

The 10,000-student university, known for far weightier research, nevertheless took the pursuit for a fanatical sideline cheerleader seriously, empaneling a committee that included students, faculty, administrators and other staff.

Officials in January said the decision would likely stretch all the way to Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon. But Mr. Walters said yesterday he did not know if Mr. Cohon, in fact, weighed in.

"Once a design company is selected, focus groups consisting of campus community members will help gauge wants and needs when it comes to the Scottie's rendering," the school's statement read.

The university plans to unveil its officially rendered image in the fall at homecoming, Mr. Walters said.

Carnegie Mellon's mix of performance arts and hard science may be one reason that, rather than a unifying image, the school made do with a smattering of symbols such as kilts, a highlander or the nickname of the school's NCAA Division III sports teams, "The Tartans," so named for the plaid textile design of Scottish descent.

At an open forum on campus in January, one student tried to get to the heart of the matter, earnestly asking the audience whether Carnegie Mellon's enduring symbol should be "fierce and ferocious" or "cute and cuddly."

The answer is now in.

"I think it's good that the school finally officially recognized its mascot," said Joel Bergstein, 21, a rising senior and chair of the undergraduate student senate. "I think it was a fine choice."


Bill Schackner can be reached at bschackner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1977.


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