President Jane Close Conoley today ratified a student-initiated vote on a new mascot for the university. With 53 percent of the vote, students selected the shark by a wide margin over the stingray and the option of having no mascot at all.
This final vote and ratification by Conoley conclude a months-long student-initiated process that first widely solicited ideas for a new mascot, sent semifinalist concepts to a broad community vote, and finally offered up three finalists for a student referendum that ended last week.
The choice of the shark aligns with the campus’ renowned Shark Lab and its proximity to the beach.
The university's previous mascot, "Prospector Pete," was retired in 2018. However, the term “‘49er” remains an informal nickname and identifier for anyone affiliated with the university as an alumnus/alumna, employee, student, or supporter. The term references the institution's founding year and continues to hold significance as the university recognizes its 70th anniversary this year. Several organizations on campus also use the term, including the Daily '49er student newspaper and the '49er Foundation.
"We have benefited from a thoughtful, thorough, and inclusive process by our students," Conoley said. "I am grateful to all the university's stakeholders for their participation."
Selection of the shark now initiates a year-long development process to determine the look of the mascot, its personality characteristics, and the design of mascot uniforms and illustrations. This, again, will be informed by a multi-stakeholder, inclusive process now led by a university steering committee that will be appointed by Conoley.
The university's intercollegiate athletics program will continue to use "Beach Athletics" and its teams the prefix moniker "Beach” – as in, "Beach Men's Volleyball," the team that won the NCAA national championship earlier this month. The baseball team also retains its longstanding informal nickname of the "Dirtbags."
This article was updated on May 11 to further amplify original content that indicated that "Beach Athletics" and the university's team names will not change.