In the fall of 2007, a nine-member committee of students,
faculty and staff engaged a strategic branding and design firm to research and develop
design concepts for a potential new spirit mark. Among the concepts evaluated was
the "Smith Pioneers," the name under which some Smith teams have been competing since
1986 but for which no market testing had ever been conducted nor any accompanying
visual symbol developed.
In multiple focus group sessions, interviews with coaches
and key campus leaders -- followed by an online survey with 1,400 responses -- a
great deal of support emerged for the Pioneer name, which powerfully evokes Smith's
tradition of breaking barriers and opening new fields of opportunity for women.
"We are pioneers in so many ways," one survey respondent
noted. "We were a college for women when the idea was outrageous, we played the first
women's basketball game, we have the first engineering program at a women's
Another student said: "'Pioneers' well
defines the hard work and determination that is part of Smith. It goes well with
both the academic and athletic sides of the college."
"I was a 'Pioneer' when I was a student,"
explained a Smith graduate, "and am a pioneer as an alumna -- athletically,
professionally and personally."
"We heard repeatedly that Smith students and athletes
are independent, passionate, and leaders of change," notes Maureen Scanlon '86,
vice president of Bidwell ID Strategic Branding and the principal consultant on the
spirit mark project. "It's clear that the path-breaking spirit that started
with founder Sophia Smith continues to define the college and its students today."
Mindful of the narrow visual associations that can be
evoked by "pioneer," Bidwell and the committee set out to develop an accompanying
logo and type treatment consistent with Smith's personality, as evoked in the
campus research: a community that is edgy and feisty but not overly irreverent, an
institution proud of its history, engaging the future with spirit, confidence and
Director of Athletics Lynn Oberbillig sees the new mark
as an exciting step in bringing the spirit of Smith athletics to a more central place
in campus life. "Whether on the field or cheering from the sidelines, students are
eager to show their support for their college and for each other."
Noting that Smith was the first women's college
to join the NCAA, she sees the new mark as linking the college's pioneering
alumnae athletes to their equally determined and competitive counterparts today.
Oberbillig expects the new mark will be used in all
new uniform orders beginning in 2009, as well as on warm-up gear and fund raising
items sold by teams and clubs.
Smith College is a Division III member of the National
Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Eastern College Athletic Conference
(ECAC). It was a founding member of the New England Women's 6 conference, now
known as NEWMAC. Smith competes in 14 Division III varsity sports and extensive intramural
and club sport programs.
The spirit mark committee was comprised of: Emily Taylor '08
(SGA President 2007-08); Caitlyn Colman-McGaw '08 (Athletic Association President
2007-08); Amanda Taus '09; Marlowe Dieckmann (SGA President 2008-09); Lynn
Oberbillig, Director of Athletics; Carole Grills, Sports Information Director; Jane
Stangl, Lecturer, Exercise and Sport Studies Department; Laurie Fenlason, Executive
Director of Public Affairs (chair); John Eue, Senior Director of Publications and
Communications, College Relations; Carole Fuller, director of strategic marketing,