By Ashley Harris | December 5, 2022
Old Damien Logo
Photo Credit: University at Albany
Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you?
The beloved university mascot that held a strong resemblance to Scooby-Doo has finally been laid to rest with the last stage of a refreshed, new version of Damien the Great Dane.
The stylistically new Damien made its initial debut around campus in 2020 as part of a rebranding effort by the Athletic Department, with its more serious looking visage beginning to appear on apparel, accessories and other items while the old Damien slowly phases out of existence.
New Damien Logo
Photo Credit: University at Albany
But, it was not until mid-October that this new Damien was introduced to a wider audience, going live on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok in a series of posts at a basketball game.
Griffith Hunter, the Assistant Athletic Director of External Relations, said the new look of both the logos and the mascot at the games was to overcome what he said were inconsistencies of the old Damien and to modernize the Great Dane, who has represented the university for more than five decades.
“We had a gold Damien logo, but our mascot was dark brown,” Hunter said. “When we went through the rebranding process, we made a conscious choice to model our new logo after the ‘Blue’ Great Dane, which is gray in color and fits well with our main school colors of purple and gold.”
According to the American Kennel Club, Great Danes are known as powerful giants that are both elegant and balanced, with a smooth and easy stride. Those qualities fit in with responses by UAlbany students in a 2016 survey that indicated a mascot should evoke characteristics such as regal, stoic, sleek, strong/athletic and not too mean, angry, or aggressive.
There were multiple sketches done of Damien during the initial phases of the logo launch designed by VIP Branding along with various committees, meetings, and conversations that would help shape the eventual outcome of the Great Dane that has already been seen interacting with students and guests at sporting events.
The new Damien mascot appeared for the first time in a fur suit at the first football game of this year’s season, said Hunter. Damien’s online debut in October was the last stage of the mascot’s full rollout, which Hunter added had been delayed by the pandemic.
“Everything eventually did work out and we were able to launch the updated Damien mascot suit at the first football game this year,” said Hunter.
Damien the Great Dane can trace his origins back to 1965, when the university launched a contest to replace the school’s first mascot: Pedwin the Pedguin. Initially, Pedwin had less to do with penguins and more to do with teachers. It was the creation of a student in 1949 who played on the word “pedagogue”(another word for teachers) which could be shortened into the nickname “Peds.”
Later that year, the student body officially declared a pedguin as the university mascot, and an image of Pedwin began appearing as a penguin-like figure wearing a cap and gown with a book under one flipper, according to an edition of the UAlbany Magazine.
Pedwin the Pedguin
Photo Credit: University Archives
Pedwin remained the mascot until the university decided it wanted to reach beyond the symbol of the teacher, according to a news release from the university.
According to an Albany Student Press article published in the spring of 1965, a joint committee composed of students, faculty, and alumni investigated changes in school tradition and in athletics. That committee decided “Pedwin” no longer represented the university as a whole and that a new mascot needed to incorporate athletics.
The committee launched a contest.
The winning entry was by Kathy Earle, of the class of 1967, who chose the Great Dane.
Why? Because, as she told the ASP at the time, "It has a proud bearing and imposing stature. It is clean, graceful, and proud."