SPRINGFIELD — Since 1955, the University has been represented under the Crusader mascot, but the school announced Friday that will soon change.
After 66 years, the name “Crusaders” will soon be history at Evangel University. Interim President Dr. George Wood says the decision was made by the Christian school because the meaning of the name has changed.
“In those early days, ‘Crusader’ represented noble purpose, righteous cause. But as time goes along, the meanings of names change. ‘Crusader’ today symbolically represents a pretty violent group of people from the 11th to the 13th century. We didn’t want this to be seen as an attempt to cancel culture, or that we were being woke, we just felt that the word ‘Crusader’ no longer fits the mission and values of this institution,” says Dr. Wood.
Athletic Director Dennis McDonald has longtime ties to Evangel but says the school is about more than a mascot.
“The legacy of Evangel University is a part of my heart and soul. The name ‘Crusaders’ is meaningful, but it does not go beyond the name of Evangel University,” McDonald says.
This comes as the school is also searching for its new permanent President, something Wood says also played into the timing of this choice.
“We’re down to the final candidates, and trusting that a final selection will be ready to be considered by the Board of Trustees in mid-April,” says Dr. Wood.
The announcement was made to students today. It drew some reactions of excitement; however, some are still processing the change.
“I was honestly about to jump out of my seat, I was just excited. I thought it was really cool. I’ve never heard of anything like that ever happening before,” says Freshman Matthew Proctor.
“I see the history behind the Crusader name, but I also see the sensitivity to the issue. I think change is good, it just doesn’t come easy all the time so I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it. But I see both sides,” Senior Christa Janowiak says.
As far as a new name goes, a committee made up of students, faculty, athletes, and alumni will hear input students and staff past and present. The University expects to have a decision made by the start of the fall semester.