Alumnus reflects on logo process

While UND has been in the process of trying to find a logo to represent the new “Fighting Hawks” nickname, Earl Strinden, former CEO of the UND Alumni Association, spoke with the Dakota Student on past logo selection processes.

While the university was in the process of developing a design to accompany the celebration of its centennial in 1983, Strinden was trying to find an ideal way to come up with a design that satisfied members of the UND community.

“We didn’t hire a high-powered public relations firm,” Strinden said, “We opened it up to students, alumni and friends of the university to make their suggestions. The one that was chosen was the eternal flame, and that is still being used to this day. We involved our alumni family. I’m so proud of the university; the loyalty, the dedication and the feeling of appreciation. So when we opened this up, we were very encouraged by the large number of people that participated in it.”

Earlier this month, UND’s Graphic Identity RFP Evaluation and Recommendation Team recommended SME Inc., a firm based in New York, to President Ed Schafer to be the firm that designs the new Fighting Hawks logo.

“I fully understand why he (President Schafer) feels that this gone too far down the road to change the course, but I do believe that the budget situation in North Dakota should change the thinking,” Strinden said.

The university is currently dealing with a budget shortfall, and the contract to SME Inc. to design the logo will cost the university close to $50,000.

Strinden feels that alumni and students should have been allowed to play a larger role in the developing the new Fighting Hawks logo, and that there are many talented alumni and students that could have assisted in the process. Thoughts similar to Strinden’s have been shared by others on social media and on the editorial pages of local news publications by members of the UND community.

“We have opportunities as a university. We take great pride in the wonderful talent that we have graduated and have gone on to serve and achieve in virtually every field of endeavor,” Strinden said. “They serve with honor and distinction, and in so doing, bring honor back to the University of North Dakota.”

Strinden led efforts in selecting Ben Brien, a UND alumnus and member of the Chippewa tribe, to design the Fighting Sioux logo in 1999, and he was a staunch advocate for the Fighting Sioux nickname during the contentious times surrounding it’s retirement.

“As much as we wanted to keep it, it’s no longer possible for us to do it, because of the damage that would come to the University of North Dakota,” Strinden said. “It is time to move on.”

Strinden believes that by including alumni and students in the process, the new nickname and logo is more likely to be accepted by the UND community.

“There is something to be said for allowing students and alumni to be involved,” Strinden said. “It not only addresses the wonderful talent and dedication and spirit that is part of the history of this university, but it also brings their participation into it, which then in turn will make whatever their decision is much more acceptable to the university family.”

Strinden spoke about the efforts of some Sioux members who worked to keep the nickname while UND was being pressured by the NCAA to retire it. Sam Dupris, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe and friend of Strinden, worked as a mediator between the tribes and the Ralph Engelstad Arena in 2007.

Dupris, a wounded and decorated veteran of the U.S. Army and a member of the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame, encouraged the Sioux people to be proud of the nickname and the fact that the university wanted to identify with it, according to Strinden.

“The question is, how do we give honor and respect to the Sioux Indians who fought for it and believed in it? How do we gain the confidence and trust of the alumni, friends, and citizens of North Dakota? And in so doing, how do we bring about the strength and support for the new symbol?”

Sean Cleary is the Editor-in-chief of The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]