Kennedy: UND will stick with name, logo
UND's new president has a message for the university's community and fans: The Fighting Hawks name and logo are here to stay.
In an interview with the Herald, Mark Kennedy, who began his tenure as UND's president Friday, said the debate about the school's nickname and logo have distracted it from focusing on academic priorities. When asked if he plans to stick with the Fighting Hawks name and logo, Kennedy said "yes and yes."
The Fighting Hawks name that was voted on in November by the university's stakeholders and the logo was released in late June.
After the logo was released, many took to social media to express their displeasure with it. A change.org petition was then created to asking for the logo to be changed and for a local artist to create a new one. By midday Friday, that online petition has more than 5,700 signatures.
The Fighting Hawks nickname replaced UND's longtime Fighting Sioux name, which was retired after the NCAA threatened sanctions.
"I appreciate that the alumni and fans are very invested in the Sioux nickname," Kennedy said. "That's an affection that's acquired over many decades and countless hours cheering for your team. I'm a seven-time letterman of the Pequot Lakes (High School) Indians. I understand that can be an affection where you're proud to be associated with the Sioux or the Indians, and I certainly was.
"But the fact remains that UND has paid a great price by being distracted from addressing other priorities with an endless debate on the nickname. I have no problem for those who wish to hold onto the prior nickname, but my duty as the president is to make sure we're focused on priorities that are essential and not to allow for the distractions that are going to keep us from figuring out how are we going to improve freshman retention, how do we capture the unmanned aircraft systems opportunity, and other things that are vitally important for the UND leadership and the community to be focused on achieving."
Kennedy replaces Ed Schafer, who served as the interim president for six months.
UND unveiled its logo to a crowd of supporters June 22. The new graphic identity, designed by New York-based SME Inc., features "a determined hawk embedded in a Kelly green ND," along with a distinctive wordmark for the name "North Dakota Fighting Hawks." Schafer made the final decision on selecting the logo.