© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Saint Louis University tries again with makeover of Billiken mascot

That old adage about not succeeding the first time and trying again certainly applies to Saint Louis University's mascot.

On Wednesday night, the university unveiled its new Billiken mascot, which is a re-do of a re-do.

The school first revamped its mythical symbol last September, but it was quickly met with disgust and jeers. 

The Billiken has been the SLU mascot for decades. But older versions were softer and more welcoming. The version released in the fall had sharper lines and a more menacing look. It spurred hundreds of comments on social media from alumni and current students.

"It’s kind of creepy looking," Quin Brudney told St. Louis Public Radio at the time. Matthew Graham described it as "something you’d see in a child’s nightmare."

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot as of September 2016
Credit Bill Barrett | provided by SLU
The Billiken introduced, and quickly retired, by Saint Louis University in September, 2016.

The negative feedback prompted SLU President Fred Pestello to order a do-over, saying he was listening to the college community.

The university says it received feedback from 17,000 people in a November poll to inform its new design. Traits the school sought included being lovable, popular, entertaining, competitive and unique.

The latest version still has a grimace and a sharper face than the one most alumni recall. This time, though, both of its eyes are open and its mouth isn’t. Additionally, it's no longer half grey, but completely white, like many previous iterations.

The history of the Billiken as Saint Louis University's mascot is debated and dates back more than a century. You can see a slideshow of the Billiken through the years at SLU's website. 

Dale Singer contributed reporting.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.