(Reading, PA) — Alvernia University has announced that it will change its university nickname, which has been “Crusaders” since the 1970s.
“The decision to choose a new institutional nickname and athletic mascot is the result of thorough reflection, guided by our Franciscan core values,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D. “We are excited about the opportunity ahead, especially since there is such widespread support for making this change.”
In preparing for this decision, President Flynn coordinated a process of consultation with student and alumni leaders, the faculty, and the Board of Trustees. Each group unanimously supported this change, as did key staff in athletics and other areas. For all at the university, a key factor was the strong, unanimous advocacy for the change by the leadership team of the university’s sponsors, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters.
A task force appointed by the president, and representing the university, will invite students, faculty, staff, and alumni to submit ideas for consideration. President Flynn plans to announce the new nickname in June, with the new name being put into use immediately.
According to Franciscan scholars, Alvernia’s patron saint, Francis of Assisi, marked a major transition in his spiritual journey when he turned away from the Crusades and pursued a life of peacemaking, including his famous trip to meet the Sultan, Malik al Kamil.
Alvernia sports teams assumed the name “Crusaders” in the 1970s with the launch of an intercollegiate athletic program at what was then a tiny, local college. Today, Alvernia is well established as a thriving regional institution, with increased visibility nationally as a student-centered “Distinctive Franciscan University,” part of the proud tradition of Catholic higher education.
“We have gained respect for our work in civic engagement and as an interfaith leader locally and nationally,” said President Flynn. “Overall, guided by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, our Franciscan identity is far more central, intentional and prominent than in recent decades. And, like many others, both Catholics and those from other traditions, we are inspired by the message of a modern-day Francis who has been a prophetic voice for unity, inclusion and peacemaking.
“We appreciate the fact that other institutions have either made the same decision or chosen not to change, and we respect their varying conclusions,” said Flynn. “Above all, for us at Alvernia, we view this decision through the lens of our Franciscan identity and core values, which continue to be at the center of who we are as a university community.”