A Real Bearcat
The Ticker, February 12, 2007, 24
Baruch Athletics Logo

    Most students attending Baruch College believe that the bearcat is and always has been the only mascot of the College. However, few people realize that during the school's existence - first when it became City College, then as its downtown business school, and finally as an independent college of the City University of New York - it witnessed no less than three other mascots before the bearcat made his appearance, a decade ago in 2002. This exhibit will take a brief look at the other three representatives of the school spirit and what became of them.

from Extinct Animals, Unknown Author, England, 1906
Ichthyosaurus by Joseph Smit (1836-1929)
from Extinct Monsters and Creatures of Other Days
England, 1910

    The Free Academy was founded in 1847, but it wasn't until 1934 that the college adopted an official mascot. However, sometime in the second half of the 19th century, the football team's mascot of the newly renamed college became the Ichthyosaurus. The Ticker described the first embodiment of school spirit:

    According to Webster's dictionary the Ichthyosaurus is "a prehistoric marine reptile having a fish shaped body, porpoise-like snout, short neck and dorsal and caudal fins." The mascot was supposed to be approximately thirty feet in length. Due to the difficulties in pronouncing its name and the ignorance of the public as to what it is, the Ichthyosaurus has long disappeared as a nickname for the school. (The Ticker, September 27, 1949, 7)

Bennie the Beaver
Beaver Handbook, ca.1930s
(Baruch College Archives)
Bennie the Beaver
The Ticker, November 14, 1950, 8
(Ticker Newspaper Archive)

    For decades after the disappearance of the Ichthyosaurus, the school had no mascot. The teams were nicknamed "Lavender," in honor of the school song, and "The St. Nicks," in honor of Saint Nicholas Terrace, where the college had moved uptown.
    All this changed in 1934, when the school acquired its first official mascot. That year the Student Life Department decided to run a contest to pick a new mascot - a football being the prize for the winner. The beaver was chosen, with the explanation that "besides being a symbol of a busy, industrious animal who would sink his teeth into a job until he finished it, the beaver is also found on the New York City seal." (The Ticker, September 27, 1949, 7)

Bennie the Football Player
Lexicon, 1942
(Baruch College Archives)
Bennie Taking a Shower
Lexicon, 1942
(Baruch College Archives)

    Another version of the origin story, although admittedly false, took place on a football field:

    The Lavender squad was four touchdowns behind Columbia, but kept fighting to the last. This was supposed to have prompted the Lion's coach to remark that the City team "keeps gnawing and chewing away at our lead like a bunch of beavers." The tag was supposed to have stuck from then on. (The Ticker, September 27, 1949, 7)

Beaver Statue in the Student Center
Lexicon, 1964
(Baruch College Archives)
Bennie the Accountant
Lexicon, 1959
(Baruch College Archives)

    The beaver became an immensely popular mascot, his image frequently gracing the pages of The Ticker and Lexicon. At one point, a student group calling themselves The Beaver Party secured a victory in the student elections. Eventually a statue to the beaver went up in the student center on East 22nd Street in the 1960s. Bennie the Beaver was the name of the main mascot (named after a popular football coach in the 1930s), while the evening session's mascot was Bernie B. Beaver. (To see the entire beaver image gallery click here.)

Bernard Baruch, the Original Statesman
(Baruch College Archives)
The Statesman
Lexicon, 1981
(Baruch College Archives)

    The Beaver was at its peak of popularity at the school when Baruch became an independent college. Due to the fact that the beaver was the mascot of its mother institution, a new mascot had to be found. Baruch teams became known as the statesmen - a nod to its prominent alumnus Bernard Baruch. The difficulty in portraying a statesman as a mascot resulted in a lack of images. Only a single attempt could be found over the more than thirty years of its existence.
    Bennie the Beaver remained the mascot of City College until his retirement in 2004.

The Bearcat
(Baruch College Archives)
The Bearcat Mascot
The Ticker, February 20, 2007
(Baruch College Archives)

    With the opening of the vertical campus in 2001, which included a brand new gym for the team, the mascot of the school was rebranded one last time. In 2002, the Baruch Athletic Department polled over 300 students on whether the statesman should remain the name of the school sports team, or a new one should be chosen. Among the options put forward were the Bearcats, the Dragons, the Bulls, and the Bobcats. The Bearcats carried the day by the slim margin of approximately ten votes over the Dragon mascot. One reason the mascot was picked was to "reflect an attitude of tenacity and success." (The Ticker, September 17, 2002, 16)
    Today the Bearcat enjoys increasing popularity on campus, and is rapidly building its own history at the college.

Curated and designed by Aleksandr Gelfand '04
under the supervision of Professor Sandra Roff

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