July 14, 2024

Explaining USU Eastern’s merger


This archived article was written by: Joe Peterson

Through the College’s many iterations of names — Carbon College, the College of Eastern Utah and Utah State University Eastern — our community has invested its pride and identity in the College. People think of this place as “our College.” The affinity with the College runs deep, and leads to loyalty and support that is essential for our future.  
Basically, people around here think of the College as “our College.” And because it is “ours,” people devote effort and resources to build it up. This community support is very important, and we should never diminish or weaken the affinity, or the extent to which students, alumni and SE Utahns think of USU Eastern as “our College.”  
At the Price Campus, our athletic’s mascot, the Golden Eagle, has been the most traditional symbol of identity with the College through its iterations. The Eagle mascot stands in the minds of students, alumni, and the community as the rally-point of identity and affiliation with the College.  Because of the richness, strength, and depth of this tradition, the College should never, in my opinion, replace the Eagle with another mascot.
As we consider the Eagle as a symbol of pride and identity, we should reflect on the merger and our integration with Utah State University. The merger brought us many benefits and basically saved our College. In addition to setting us on solid financial grounds, the merger opened up a vast array of new opportunities (new programs of study, upgraded services, shared classes and access to the resources of a world-class research university) and it allowed us new economies of operation (shared instructional services, shared academic resources, shared administrative support — many things we could never afford by ourselves when we existed as CEU).
At the Logan Campus, folks use other symbols to create affinity and identity. The University’s athletic mascot is Big Blue, a Blue Bull. The student section at athletic events is called the HURD, and students scream, “Be seen!  Be loud!  Be HURD!” And fans sing a fight song, “Hail the Utah Aggies.” Whenever one goes to a ball game in Logan, one sees these symbols — the blue color, the Bull, the HURD, and the Aggies — and one senses that that the affinity and identity with the University also runs very deep. One senses that this affinity is important for the University because it motivates people to invest resources and effort in building up the University.
We can and must be both Eagles and Aggies, and I have studied examples where just this sort of thing has happened. For example, in the Texas A&M system the main campus students refer to themselves as “Aggies,” and the sports mascot is a collie dog named Reveille. Also, at a merged campus four hours away in a town called Texarkana, the intercollegiate athletic mascot is the Eagle, not a Collie Dog, but students at both campuses refer to themselves as “Aggies.”  At Texarkana, students are the “Aggie Eagles.”
For our health as an institution, we must nurture and maintain our strong traditions. We must proudly identify ourselves as Eagles and allow this tradition to deepen and grow. However, at the same time, we must more fully join the proud “Aggie Nation” and more fully enjoy our identity as Aggies and the benefits that come from being part of this great University. We should avoid the false dilemma, the ill-founded “either-or” that would force us to be either Eagles or Aggies, but not both. We must identify with the College as “our College,” and with the University as “our University.” We must be Eagles.  At the same time, we must be Aggies.