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U. of Iowa Professor Wants Athletics Mascot to Show More Smile, Less Scowl

Resmiye Oral, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, wants images of Herky the Hawk, the Hawkeyes’ mascot, to display a wider range of facial expressions beyond his well-known grimace, to better exemplify the university’s welcoming atmosphere, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported on Wednesday.

Ms. Oral recently wrote an email to athletic-department officials and Faculty Senate members saying that incoming students should be met with calm, nurturing messages, and “Herky’s angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community,” according to the Press-Citizen.

In the emails she drew attention to the Herky images on posters and fliers on the campus and said that while there is a time and place for the competitive Herky image, he should “be like one of us, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes angry, sometimes concentrated.”

Ms. Oral’s email has drawn mixed responses. Thomas Vaughn, an associate professor of health management and policy, and president of the Faculty Senate, said that at this time the group is not focused on how Herky is depicted. And Herky has been an emblem of the university for the last 60 years. The university has to keep a logo and brand unchanged for as long as possible to maintain its value, said Dale Arens, director of the university’s trademark licensing program, according to the Press-Citizen.

Not everyone agrees that Herky’s teeth-baring scowl is threatening. When the life-size Herky costume was altered two years ago, Ed Underberg, a university alumnus, told the Press-Citizen that while the old Herky might be intimidating, “the new Herky looks like a stuffed animal, like something on a kid’s bed.”

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