Jefferson U: Return of the Ram

An old mascot re-imagined for 21st century trail-blazing 

Phil the Ram is back and better than ever, baby! After a brief hiatus, Thomas Jefferson University’s big-horned mascot has returned with a brand new look for 2024. This Phil has wider, friendlier eyes, and fuller, fluffier coat than the old one. He sports a silver goatee and a shock of wild blue hair between his horns, which are two different colors – the one that stands out is shiny and black. What’s up with that?

For the answer, we’ll turn to creator Dave Raymond, the city’s first Phillie Phanatic, whose marketing team was behind the viral sensation that became Gritty. For Dave, the most important part of any “mascot intervention” is a great backstory!

“Our job is to go in and make them understand the difference between a mascot, which is a kid in a costume, and a character, which is a living breathing extension of the brand,” Raymond said. His task wasn’t to tell Jefferson what the next Phil the Ram should look like, but to help Jefferson envision how a new Ram mascot could embody the University’s ideals, academics, and history. When you have a great “origin story,” the design follows logically from there.

Get this: Phil the Ram’s black horn is bionic! A high-tech, carbon fiber innovation created by the collaborative expertise of Jefferson’s medical, fashion, industrial design and occupational therapy schools after Phil was tragically injured while sledding at Ravenhill. They made him better, stronger, faster… and stylish!

The new Phil is more than a mascot: he’s a larger-than-life incarnation of — and an essential ambassador for — Jefferson University’s “brand.” Though Jefferson Medical College has been around since 1824, the University as we now know it came together in 2017, when Jefferson merged with Philadelphia University, aka “Textiles” (a fashion and design school in East Falls).

Today, the schools’ two very different disciplines complement each other to encourage studies in forward-thinking mash-ups like wound-care fabrics, medical architecture, and yes, robotic prosthetics. The University finally has a mascot that sums all this synergy up in one charismatic package. Still, there begs the obvious question: why a Ram? The simple answer is that Philly U’s mascot had been “the Rams” but there’s more to the story worth sharing:

Until the 1950’s, Textile’s mascot was “The Weavers” – a nod to the school’s roots in Philadelphia’s textile industry. But then one day they were playing St. Joe’s, and the Hawks cheerleaders got the whole crowd taunting “Knit one, purl two, Textile yoo-hoo!” which evidently was such a sick burn in 1958 that the president immediately agreed to demands for a “good masculine mascot.” 🙄

He literally asked one guy, who gave the first suggestion that popped into his head, and thus the “Weavers” changed to “Rams.” 🤷 Conveniently, Jefferson didn’t have a mascot when they merged with Phila U, so “Phil the Ram” was created to represent the new, blended institution. Phil was OK, but hardly beloved. And frankly the costume had seen better days. What better excuse for a revamp too: Jefferson’s bicentennial!

The new Phil made his grand entrance at a March 5th pep rally for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, both seeded No. 1 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference playoffs.

In a rambunctious display of school spirit, Phil the Ram was not just a woolly cheerleader during the games but the secret weapon behind the teams’ victories. He rallied the men’s team to a 76-66 victory over the Felician Golden Falcons, securing their spot in the CACC Championship Semifinals for the 11th consecutive time.

Not to be outdone, the women’s team, with Phil’s encouragement, handled the Bridgeport Purple Knights in a 64-48 win, also punching their ticket to the CACC Semifinals. Way to debut a new mascot!

From here, Phil the Ram will be charming crowds at games and also repping Jefferson at fundraisers, community outreach events, student and alumni affairs  – wherever his unique story can put a fuzzy face on the University, and highlight its unique mission and legacy.

LEARN MORE!  Thomas Jefferson University’s website has virtual tours, interactive maps, and a news portal called The Nexus with all kinds of fun articles on cool stuff students and staff are up to.

Thoughts? Questions? Please reach out in the comments below.

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