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History of the University of Mary Washington

Institutional Name Changes & Our Time as Part of the University of Virginia

Name and Branding

The July 1, 2004 University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors meeting demonstrates how the institution changed its marketing as its name changed. Gerry Willse of Barton, Matheson, Willse & Worthington—a strategic marketing and branding company—used faculty and student focus groups to develop "core messages for the University: tradition, prestige and vision." At this meeting, a new logo, which "represents the traditional campus feature of columns," was also presented.

Previously, in the 1980s, the MWC logo was considered "too modern" and "futuristic," according to a 1987 edition of The Battlefield (226). The logo was replaced with a design featuring Mary Washington and George Washington, which had three goals: "to convey the traditional nature of the College; to identify the historical Mary Washington by associating her visually with her most prominent son—perhaps the most recognizable figure in all of American history; and to suggest the coeducational status of the College by depicting both a female and a male" (226).

Logo Images

Two logos, MWC and a logo depicting George Washington and Mary Washington, are next to each other. A caption reads,

This image, taken from the March 18, 1999 edition of The Bullet, juxtaposes an older logo with a new logo introduced in 1999.

A banner that reads

The column logo introduced in 2004 alongside the name change to the University of Mary Washington is depicted in this photograph by Emily Nicotera taken from the January 27, 2005 edition of The Bullet.


A February 1978 article in The Bullet criticizes the institution for not having a clear mascot or icon to cheer for and notes that some had suggested using Blue Tide, which was used by the swim team, for all Mary Washington athletic teams. The article also suggests other names, such as the Marauders, Condors, Rebels, Colonials, Azure Surf, Colonels, or Mustangs. By March 1978, students voted to name all Mary Washington athletic teams the Blue Tide, which received about a third of the votes.

According to William Crawley's University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008, after an "image study" in 1985, the institution decided to implement an official mascot and school colors, in part because of the expansion of varsity sports. Students and faculty voted for colors and mascot, the options for which included the Devil-Goat, the Eagles, the Militia, the Bullet, the Cannons, and the Bayonets. In 1986, the Board of Visitors approved the Eagle as the institution's mascot and navy blue, gray, and white as the institution's official colors.

A 1987 article in Battlefield claims that although "many complained" that the eagle mascot was "plain and unexciting," "it seems to be catching on," since people had t-shirts, sweatshirts, and gym bags featuring it (221).

In 1996, an article in The Bullet criticized the eagle mascot as "generic" and suggests that the Eagle was chosen because the institution "needed a more masculine nickname in order to attract men to the school," instead praising the former Blue Tide mascot (7). A 2006 Bullet article also criticized the institution's attempt to appeal to potential male students by changing the mascot to an eagle and changing the original colors, which were baby blue and white, to a more "masculine" navy blue and gray, in addition to criticizing the former school logo with Mary Washington and George Washington, which depicted a "very large George Washington looming over his very tiny mother, Mary" (8). 

Mascot Images

Eleven women from the class of 1928 stand beneath a sign that has the illustration of a goat, in which are the words,

In this photograph of alumnae from the class of 1928, the goat mascot is used.

Three women pose with the eagle mascot, who is holding a Mary Washington College flag, during the baseball field dedication in 1988.

This photograph by Barry Fitzgerald depicts the eagle mascot at the baseball field dedication in 1988.

V. Earl Dickinson stands in front of V. Earl Dickinson Stadium with the eagle mascot, who has his arm around Dickinson.

In this photograph, the eagle mascot stands with V. Earl Dickinson in front of a stadium.