Rogers State University has unveiled its new mascot – the Hillcat, a unique blue and crimson animal that will serve as a source of campus pride and provide a visual identity for the university.
The Hillcat was presented to the public for the first time at a rally on Tuesday on the RSU campus in Claremore. RSU students, faculty, the community and members of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, the governing board for RSU, witnessed the unveiling by RSU President Dr. Joe Wiley and Regent Paul Austin.
“The unveiling of the Hillcat is a proud and historic moment for the university, as our students today create a tradition for tomorrow,” Wiley said. “We believe the Hillcat embodies the enthusiastic, determined and bold spirit of RSU and the pride our students and alumni feel for the institution.”
The new mascot will serve as a brand and visual rallying point for the university as a whole, including its academic, alumni and athletic programs, Wiley added.
The Hillcat is a fictitious cousin of the bobcat, which is indigenous to northeast Oklahoma, said Dr. Hugh Foley, RSU assistant professor and chairman of the committee of students and faculty that selected the mascot. The Hillcat also draws its name from “College Hill,” a traditional nickname for RSU. The university sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Claremore.
The committee worked for several months studying mascots from colleges, universities and high schools across Oklahoma and the nation to determine the desired attributes of a mascot that would capture the unique spirit and history of RSU.
“Our goals were to select a unique mascot – a character that no other school or college in the nation had adopted,” said Foley, one of the nation’s leading experts on school mascots. “The Hillcat fit all of our requirements – it is a completely original character, projects a sense of strength and ties into the hills of this region.”
The committee adopted the Hillcat as its official recommendation and forwarded it to President Wiley, who also was enthusiastic and approved the selection.
“The student body is very excited about the Hillcat and all that it represents,” said Shawn Reiss, president of the RSU Student Government Association. “I think the Hillcat will really enhance our school spirit.”
The Hillcat will be the university’s first mascot since the 1970s. In the past, the predecessor institutions of RSU have adopted various mascots and team monikers, including the Oklahoma Military Academy Cadets, Claremore Junior College Spartans and Rogers State College Thunderbirds.
During the current academic year, RSU will begin participation in intercollegiate athletics, fielding teams in baseball and softball. The university has applied for membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Sooner Athletic Conference. In the coming years, the university plans to add other athletic programs, including men’s and women’s basketball.
The original depiction of the Hillcat was developed by SME Branding of New York. The development of the mascot was paid for entirely by private funds.