TMCC College News

New Official Lizard Mascot is Unveiled

Posted: May 30, 2014

Picture of Dallas Avery Jones Receiving Award

Dallas Avery Jones, left, accepts her award for winning the mascot design contest from SGA President, Stephanie Prevost, right. The student awards ceremony took place on May 21, 2014.

From the time when Truckee Meadows Community College first printed its formal application for accreditation, to the interval when an 18-pound monitor lizard lived on campus, students and faculty have been fascinated with this remarkable animal — and in late May an official mascot has been unveiled.

During the Fall 2013 semester, Student Government Association (SGA), put forward the idea of a contest to choose an informal mascot logo design.

“Stephanie Prevost (SGA President) said that the SGA has been talking about this for a few years,” said Ron Marston, Graphic Communications Professor and Faculty Senate Chair.

SGA and administrators at TMCC decided that the contest would center on a lizard symbol, instead of a gecko, because geckos aren’t indigenous to Nevada.

“Lizards are hardy and they are survivors,” Marston said.

These reptiles are abundant in the Great Basin, are great climbers, have extremely tuned eyesight and precise color vision. Some species of lizards can do extraordinary things like shed a tail and grow a new one, or change colors.

The Dean of Sciences at TMCC agrees.

“Yes, all of these attributes are correct, and lizards are highly adaptable to their environment,” said Lance D. Bowen, Ph.D.

The design contest was open to everyone in the college community

Marston created an assignment for his Fall GRC 118 class, to draw in vector graphics software, a logo icon representing a lizard that could be used in various media. Marston taught two sections of GRC 118 during Spring and assigned the project to both classes.

“I submitted all of the lizard illustrations turned in to me this semester in both class sections, and also from last fall,” Marston said. “There were 43 lizards.”

SGA promoted the contest as open to all at TMCC, and a few more students from the community entered their designs. The first round of judging was completed by top officials of the college.

“I participated on the original judging as part of the President’s Cabinet, and we narrowed the 45 or so submissions down to about 17 for the student body to vote on during March,” Marston said. “TMCC students voted and narrowed the field to the top five.”

Following the vote, the five finalists were vetted by the President’s Cabinet, and the designs went back to SGA. SGA decided to choose the winner in order to make the contest entirely student driven.

A winning illustration is selected

The winning entry was designed by Dallas Avery Jones, a student majoring in Graphic Communications, enrolled in one of the two Spring GRC 118 classes.

“I think she’ll do well in the program and in her career,” Marston said.

Jones was honored for illustrating the winning entry with an award at the Student Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, May 21, in the V. James Eardley Student Center.

Marston indicates that one of the reasons that the contest was so successful is that specific skills brought by GRC students enabled a wide field of choices to be available for the vote.

“I was happy to be able to participate in the process and help it along,” Marston said. “The software skills and the design processes taught in the GRC program really allowed for the number of high quality submissions that facilitated this to happen.”

History behind TMCC choosing the lizard as its representative

Our intrepid lizard has had a long history with the college, starting when TMCC had not yet branched from Western Nevada Community College in the early 1970s.

During this time, the college had a basketball team, called the “Wildcats.” An English professor asked the basketball coach why the team was named the Wildcats, when there were more lizards than wild cats in the area, according to a scanned article provided by Pat Slavin, past Associate Dean, Office of the President.

Word of the professor’s comment spread on campus. A lizard cheer was created, featuring reptile-like tongue flicks.

In additional information from the scanned article:

  • The shape of a lizard was drawn in the wet cement when TMCC’s first Stead campus was constructed.
  • For a time, a student’s 18-pound monitor lizard lived in an Arts and Sciences office.
  • In TMCC’s first self-study, an important step toward it’s first accreditation, a lizard icon was included.
  • In the spring of 1978, there was a Lizard Appreciation Day at Bowers Mansion, where students enjoyed an end of semester picnic and touch-football game. T-shirts were printed for the event.

In the Elizabeth Sturm Library’s historical archives, there are more entrances of the lizard:

  • A detailed pencil drawing by Deena Kessinger ’95 on page 23 of the 1995 Summer Class Schedule
  • Newspaper article in TMCC Voices on April 28, 1995 about the lizard being chosen by the ASTM as its mascot, with a drawing by Maryann Sterling
  • The animal is shown on undated pocket folders and student planners in the archive’s collection
  • A shape of a gecko is part of the student newspaper, The Echo’s, logo from Feb. 2001 until Dec. 2006

More recent history has carried forth the tradition

Candace Nicol, Interim Art galleries curator, employed the theme of a lizard in one of the Fall 2013 shows.

“The Dandini art gallery is displaying from Sept. 16 until Oct. 17 a faculty art exhibit titled, ‘A Lizard’s Tale’ that contains a number of different pieces of artwork, all of which have some incorporation of a lizard,” according to The Echo.

The lizard icon has been used at the top of internet browser tabs.

“That’s been in place for over a dozen years or so, when browsers first started supporting them … It’s called a Favicon,” wrote Cal Anderson, TMCC Webmaster. “I knew back then the lizard was our unofficial mascot, so I went that route.”

A welcome for TMCC’s new official mascot

A name for the mascot may be in the works for the future, said Kyle Dalpe, Associate Dean and Chief of Staff. Names were purposely left off of the ballots during the student vote so that the vote would be purely representational of the symbol and not the suggested names, he said.

Marston is enthusiastic to welcome the new icon.

“I hope that the mascot will bring the community together; that students can get behind the new mascot logo,” Marston said. “Students and staff might start wearing T-shirts and displaying bumper stickers that are seen around town and positively promote our college.”

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Telephone: 775-673-7087

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