A UND committee has recommended a design firm to create a logo for the school’s Fighting Hawks nickname.

The university’s Graphic Identity RFP Evaluation and Recommendation Team chose New York-based SME Inc. Tuesday after three firms made their pitch to design the logo. Pending final approval from UND interim President Ed Schafer, the company is expected to design the logo by this summer so the school can implement it in the fall.

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“It’s an important next step, and it’s been a short but very engaged process,” said UND Athletic Director Brian Faison, who served as a co-chairman for the committee. “It’s nice to get to this point, absolutely.”

Committee members spent most of the day listening to presentations and discussing the three firms. The meeting began at 7:30 a.m. and wrapped up around 6 p.m., with firms’ presentations conducted mostly behind closed doors.

A large portion of the graphic identity team's meetings has taken place behind closed doors with UND asserting the review of the proposals is exempt from open meeting laws until oral presentations have been heard. Now that presentations have concluded, submitted proposals are soon expected to become public record.

The process of choosing a design firm Tuesday used a point-based system in which members of the UND committee rated presentations from all three firms on experience, qualifications and their particular strategy for the project. SME beat out the New Jersey-based Phoenix Design Works and the North Carolina-based Summit Athletic Media.

Those three were selected last week from a broader pool of 16 applicants.

"This isn't just about coming up with a nice looking image; it's about coming up with a graphic identity that's going to work with the nickname," UND spokesman Peter Johnson said. "It's about understanding how the image that's created fits into the overall culture of the institution."

The full cost of the logo drafting with SME, Johnson said, is estimated at $49,500 and will include multiple iterations of the logo, custom font and a brand usage guide. The cost could change should UND officials elect to purchase any further services from SME, Johnson said.

He added public input is expected to be sought during the drafting process, though he said he wasn’t yet sure to what extent the public would be involved.

The Fighting Hawks nickname was selected in November to replace the Fighting Sioux nickname, which was retired in 2012 following years of controversy over its reference to Native American imagery.

Committee Co-chair Susan Walton, UND’s vice president for university and public affairs, stressed how seriously the team took the firm-vetting.

“Everyone in this group has a recognition of how important this is and how important it is to get this logo right,” she said.

The university anticipates issuing a notice of intent to award a contract in the next several days and expects to issue the contract around Feb. 16, Walton said at a previous meeting.