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Rowdy's Transformation

CMU's mascot has a new look and new scholarship initiative

During the 19th century, businesses discovered that attaching a character to a brand could leave a lasting impression. One of the first companies to do this was The Quaker Oats Company with its iconic Quaker Man image, which appeared in stores in 1877. Since then, businesses and brands have continued to use fictional characters to tell their story. Similarly, universities use mascots to enhance and personalize the college experience for students and fans alike. Mascots become synonymous with their universities and Colorado Mesa University’s Rowdy is no exception.

Mascots, like Rowdy, connect people with an organization. Mascots have the power to bring people together to create a family or, in CMU’s case, a Mavily.

“Mascots are a fun and integral component of university culture,” said CMU Alumni Relations Director Jared Meier. “CMU’s mascot invokes school pride and represents all the attributes of being a Maverick.”

The university was established in 1925 and for the first few years the mascot evolved from the Pioneers to the Westerners and then to the Collegians. Through research, students discovered the meaning of the word Maverick, which included words like unorthodox and individualist. They found the definition to be an embodiment of ideals that students aspired to and in 1929 the Maverick was adopted by the student body as the school’s official mascot.

Mesa's calf mascot from the March 5, 1958 edition of The Criterion

Throughout the years the four-legged bovine mascot has had numerous names including Ruford, Ferdinand, Trouble and Cisco. In 2008, the cheerleading team sponsored a contest to give CMU’s mascot his official name. The name Rowdy overwhelmingly won and the new name was accepted into campus culture.

The mascot inspired the names for the Rowdy Brass Band and the convenience store in the University Center on campus. The Rowdy character and spirit even inspired a children’s book titled Hello Rowdy!

The mascot costume didn't’t make its appearance at school functions until the early 2000s. The first costume had brown fur and yellow eyes. The overall appearance of the original costume wasn’t a fan favorite, so it was replaced in 2008 and that most recent costume was retired in early 2021.

CMU's first mascot costume made its first appearance in the early 2000s

CMU’s mascot not only pumps fans up at athletic events but Meier and the Alumni Association use Rowdy to help foster and build relationships with alumni and the community.

“It’s fun to observe the nostalgia our mascot brings to former Mavs and the big smiles he invokes from children,” said Meier. “We don’t fully understand the impact and benefits of a mascot to a university until you see the joy reflected in the faces of the fans.”

CMU has grown during the years and as campus expands, so does Rowdy’s role. In Spring 2021, at the first spring homecoming, a new Rowdy costume and mascot scholarship program will be unveiled.

Come Fall 2021, students will audition to become one of the few people allowed to perform as Rowdy for official CMU events. Once earning their spot on the team, the performers will be trained in the art of being a mascot.

The CMU Foundation created the Rowdy Performers Scholarship Fund to provide professional training for student performers and tuition assistance for students for years to come.

“The performers will work hard in perfecting their skills and talents,” said CMU Foundation CEO Liz Meyer. “In addition to Coca-Cola and Western Slope Stop ‘n‘ Save stores gifts, the Rowdy Performers Scholarship Fund continues to grow.”

With a new costume and dedicated performers, Rowdy, like the Quaker Man, will continue to leave a lasting impression. Thanks to the new scholarship program, Rowdy will delight audiences for years to come as the school continues to grow.

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Written by Jeremy Smith