The Evangel University Crusaders are no more. The evangelical school in Springfield, Missouri changed the name of its mascot to Valor.
“The process of selecting a new mascot that best represented our university was a comprehensive and thoughtful one,” Michael Kolstad, Ph.D., vice president for university advancement, said in release. “Valor was among the list of submitted mascot names, and it continually rose to the top of the list among our focus groups and mascot selection committee.”
The Crusader mascot was selected in the 1950s shortly after Evangel University was initiated. At that time, the term was seen as one that linked to concepts of bravery, loyalty and courage. But in recent years, crusader has come to be seen more in the context of the bitter warfare that took place from the 11th to the 13th centuries between Christian powers in Europe and Muslim powers in the Middle East. Crusader also has been described as promoting “aggressive religious oppression and violence,” and sometimes associated with the Ku Klux Klan after the group was founded by southern Democrat confederates.
Evangel dropped Crusaders shortly after Valparaiso, a private university in northwest Indiana, did the same. Valparaiso since adopted the Beacons nickname to connect to the school’s motto: “In Thy Light We See Light.”
The university said it received feedback from more than 800 alumni, current students, faculty and staff and collected a total of 700 mascot submissions. The school said the evolution from a Crusader riding a horse to just a horse itself was intentional.
“The horse is a vehicle used to share a message, just as God inspires Evangel students to share the good news of Christ,” the school said in a release. The Valor logo was designed by Hampton Creative, an independent branding agency in Tulsa.
“By leveraging the best qualities of the university’s past — bravery, loyalty and courage — Evangel has reestablished a noble foundation for its future,” the release said.