Iowa professor wants school mascot to smile to be more welcoming

Do you think Herky needs to smile more? (Getty Images)
Do you think Herky needs to smile more? (Getty Images)

One Iowa professor believes the school’s mascot looks too angry and wants the bird’s facial expressions to be happier.

Resmiye Oral, a pediatrics professor, wrote an email to the Iowa athletic department regarding her feelings towards the mascot, which has a toothy facial expression. From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” Resmiye Oral, a clinical professor of pediatrics at UI, wrote recently in an email to UI athletic department officials. “And our campus community is doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words. However, Herky’s angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community.”

She told the paper she wants the bird to show more emotional variety.

“I would like to bring to the Faculty Senate’s attention that the attached Herky images are totally against the nonviolent, all accepting, nondiscriminatory messages we are trying to convey through campus,” Oral wrote in the email to her fellow senate members.

If we’re going to get technical regarding the facial expressions of a bird mascot, birds do not have teeth. So the presence of the pearly-white chompers shown in Herky the Hawk’s facial expression is already cartoonish (as is likely the point of the mascot). And because of that glaring factual error, we have a hard time going deeply into an analysis of Herky’s facial expressions and their real world implications.

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Herky the Hawk was first rendered in 1948 by a professor at the journalism school and became a football mascot in 1959. While we understand logos and mascots may be due for an update over the course of 70 years, we’re not convinced anyone would believe Iowa wasn’t an accepting campus because of Herky’s quasi-menacing glare. And if Herky needs to be happier, doesn’t Iowa’s logo need to be happier too? This Hawkeye doesn’t look too pleasant.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!