When the marketing team did student focus
groups in advance of a website rebuild, the team
discovered that students felt connected to their
individual programs of study, but not necessarily
to the community and the college. There was no
“shared experience,” Pochatko says. “We all agreed
that a mascot could help build that sense.”
Years ago, when the college did have athletics, the
teams were the Terra Thunder. That’s not something
that easily translates to a mascot. So, the college
started from scratch in creating its new mascot. Like
BMCC, Terra State involved its students in the process.
Two brainstorming sessions were held with students.
“I was surprised at the thought students put into
their decision. They had reasoning behind why they
thought we should be certain things,” Pochatko says.
The marketing team came away with about 35 ideas
after the sessions, and narrowed it down to two finalists: the Terra State Titans and the Terra State Tigers.
Online voting for the two options was open to not only
all students and staff, but also the community at large.
“We’re a small, rural community college, and for
us it’s about our partnerships and relationships with
everyone in the area, just as much as it is about edu-
cation,” Pochatko says. “We wanted the community to
feel a part of this, too.”
And people did become invested in the deci-
sion. Pochatko says she had at least 10 people a day
asking how the vote was going. In the end, the Terra
State Titan was the choice of the masses. It was
announced at the State of the College address and
followed by a celebration.
THE NEXT PHASE
That wasn’t the end of it, though. The mascot still
had to be designed and built. A designer came up
with three sketches for the Terra State Titan, which
were sent out internally for feedback. There was
some confusion, as some people didn’t understand it
was the conceptual drawing for a costumed mascot,
not the logo that would come later for athletics.
For the most part, however, people were very
thoughtful about their responses, Pochatko says.
They made suggestions to make the Titans more
diverse and less “militaristic.”
When the revised, winning sketch was sent out,
“most people were happy,” Pochatko says. “People
felt included in the process.”
Funding has been secured to have two costumes
built—a male and a female. They will be full-body
costumes for anonymity.
“We don’t want a person to be associated with
the costume,” Pochatko explains.
The male mascot will be unveiled this fall. It’s good
timing: the college celebrates its 50th anniversary this
year. Terra State will have a float in the local parade,
and Pochatko admits that “a kid would probably be
more excited about seeing a mascot handing out candy
than a college president.”
Also, plans are in the works for Terra State to
bring back intercollegiate athletics within the next
couple years. Having an established mascot will
make marketing easier.
Taking on the project of launching what is
basically the new face of the college has been a
heavy lift, Pochatko admits. Like BMCC’s Craig,
though, Pochatko knows the end result—students
feeling more connected to the college—is worth
Sketches of the new
for Terra State.
Outgoing BMCC President Antonio Pérez
dances with Manny the Panther.
“Our president danced with the mascot. Do we remember the speech?
No. Do we remember he danced with the mascot? Yes.”
MARVA CRAIG, vice president for student affairs, Borough of Manhattan Community College