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University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943



squirrel.followup

April Fools Day Joke Pokes Fun at ‘Unofficial Mascot’

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (April 1, 2015) – While the Mules and Jennies mascots continue to play a prominent role in the University of Central Missouri’s campus culture, staff members in University Relations took advantage of April 1 to play a practical joke aimed at engaging its social media audience. The April Fools Day announcement fictitiously named the Squirrel as the university’s new mascot – at least for one day.

“Of course the university has no intention of changing the name of its current mascot,” said Courtney Tripp, manager of new media and communication. “This time of year, the squirrel gets a lot of attention because the population is so thick around campus. You see them everywhere. So, we used April 1 as an opportunity to poke fun at what has become an ‘unofficial mascot.’ It’s simply a way to engage our growing social media audience.”

She noted that the April Fools activity also provided an opportunity for student designers and writers to use their creativity, and get some hands-on experience. They created special logos and other special marks that incorporated a cartoon-like squirrel into the design. Those items were shared via Facebook and Twitter, which linked to an online news release that announced the new mascot, while dropping hints to let readers in on the joke.

 “From the byline by ‘April Furste’ to references to ‘April Fools Day,’ and other winks to the reader, we wanted to make it clear this was just for fun,” Tripp said. “Mules and Jennies mascots are beloved and here to stay.”

UCM’s proud tradition of Mules and Jennies mascots celebrate the animal’s role in Missouri, once used to farm the state’s land, harvest timber, work mines, build roads, take people to church and to serve in times of war.

Following a campus contest that received 80 different entries, and promised a three-year post-graduation subscription to the school newspaper to the winner, the Mule mascot was officially announced and accepted at a convocation Feb. 15, 1922. A similar competition in 1974 led to the selection of the “Jennies” as the name for women’s athletic teams, rather than using the gender non-specific Mule mascot to represent all teams.