Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson attempted to squelch a potential dust-up in higher education Monday when he declared that EKU's mascot will remain the Colonel.
"The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a long-standing practice of bestowing its highest recognition — Honorary Kentucky Colonel — to those deemed worthy by the governor," Benson said in a statement. "Eastern Kentucky University embraces the same philosophy of bestowing its highest recognition — EKU Colonel — to our worthy students pursuing their educational and personal goals."
Benson was responding to retired EKU professor Williams Ellis, who wrote letters to both the student paper, the Eastern Progress, and the Richmond Register, recommending that EKU brave the modern world with a new mascot.
"The Colonel mascot was anachronistic even when it was chosen and is even more out-dated in the early 21st century," wrote Ellis, the author of The History of Education in Kentucky. "Even the modern redesign of the Colonel logo a few years ago is of no help in separating Eastern Kentucky University from a bygone era.
The Richmond Register conducted an online poll on the question, with unscientific results showing 455 in favor of keeping the hatted figure and 76 who want a new mascot.