8 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL AACC.NCHE.EDU
At sporting events, mascots get fans hyped up
and engaged with the game. At community colleges, mascots are used to get students engaged
with the institution.
Take, for instance, Manny the Panther, the official (non-verbal) “spokescreature” for Borough of
Manhattan Community College (BMCC) in New York.
The college does have athletics, but Manny is there
for all students and participates in many non-athletic
events, including welcome events during the first
week of the fall semester and commencement.
“We’re using the face, character and personality
to stand out for us and have a really big physical
presence and identity,” says Marva Craig, BMCC’s
vice president for student affairs. “Even though it’s
not talking, it says a lot.”
The panther had been part of BMCC since the
1960s, and had a fierce look. The college recently
decided it was time the panther got a makeover
and a new name.
“While we liked the fierceness, we also wanted to
cultivate the warmth and friendliness,” Craig explains.
Students were given a chance to take part in
naming the mascot, and many jumped at the
chance. More than 3,000 students voted in an
email survey. Manny—short for Manhattan—
easily beat out Hudson, Pat the Panther and
It was important to hear the voices of the stu-
dents, Craig says, because “by ourselves, the staff
would not have chosen Manny.”
And introducing Manny to the college com-
munity became an unforgettable event. Manny
was introduced at the annual State of the College
address. The mascot shyly took his place on stage
before breaking into a dance and even getting out-
going President Antonio Pérez to join in.
“Our president danced with the mascot. Do we
remember the speech? No. Do we remember he
danced with the mascot? Yes,” Craig says.
The mascot also is now tied to programs on
campus. BMCC’s program for first-generation students is named Panther Partners. And the students
voted to name the food pantry the Panther Pantry,
which helps to make it more welcoming and
removes some of the stigma, according to Craig.
Manny the Panther has become a message
board for the college and a marketing tool. But the
mascot also has meaning for the students, helping
them feel part of the college community.
“Our goal is for students to be connected,” Craig says.
PROVIDING A SHARED EXPERIENCE
Terra State Community College doesn’t currently
have any athletic programs, but it is getting its first,
Though the costumed Terra Thundercat would
appear at “random” on-campus events, it was
never considered an official mascot, but rather
“just something they thought would be fun,” says
Amanda Pochatko, marketing manager for the
More than a character
By Tabitha Whissemore