Valencia College has unveiled its new mascot – and it’s the Valencia Puma.
“We believe it is the perfect mascot to embody the spirit and characteristics of our students, alumni, staff, faculty and our communities — strength, resilience, perseverance and the ability to overcome obstacles,” said Dr. Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia College.
Florida pumas, sometimes known as panthers, were listed as an endangered species in 1973, but their population has grown tenfold since then. These strong animals thrive in an interconnected community, where they interact with each other regularly.
At the request of student leaders, the college began the search for a new mascot in November 2021. College officials received more than 650 suggestions, ranging from a velociraptor to a tomato. Led by student government members, a committee whittled the choices down to three finalists: an orange, a cardinal and a puma.
Students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community were encouraged to vote for their favorite mascot online – and when the voting concluded on March 29, the puma was the clear winner, with 45 percent of the vote. The orange received 22 percent of the vote, while the cardinal received 33 percent.
What’s next for the Valencia College Puma? A mascot costume, of course.
Valencia officials are working with industry experts to design a puma mascot costume and hope to have one ready to unveil in fall 2022. The student body will also be asked to vote on a name for the new mascot in the fall.
Valencia College Puma merchandise will be available at the Valencia College campus stores soon.
Formerly known as the Matadors, Valencia College retired that mascot in 2010. The college no longer fields athletic teams, having eliminated athletics in 1998 after students elected to reroute those funds to provide computer labs and free tutoring for all students.