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Nighthawks are smart, strong birds whose power comes through unity, determination and an eagerness to embrace the next challenge. Like native nighthawks who are indigenous to the region, NNU Nighthawks soar above the competition as they focus on an elevated purpose. This bird, as a symbol of NNU, adheres to the University’s strong ties to its location and the culture of the Northwest. Nighthawks are small, quick, stealthy and embody the power of character, a strong will and an aptitude for achieving success despite their size. Just as in nature, NNU Nighthawks find success through collaboration as they work together toward a common goal—regardless of the context in which they find themselves.
In 1933-34, Northwest Nazarene College’s intercollegiate athletics came onto the scene with the formation of a basketball team initially known as the “preachers” because so many of the young men were preparing to become ministers; shortly after, “Crusaders” was adopted as the official mascot of NNC.
In the 1980s, a knight costume was purchased and students were recruited to dress up as “Clyde the Crusader” at home athletic events.
As we entered a new century, in response to changing cultural associations with the term “Crusader,” President Richard Hagood formed a committee to discuss the idea of changing the NNU mascot; after receiving strong feedback from alumni, it was decided the issue was too divisive and the idea was tabled.
In response to a growing diversity of opinion regarding “Crusaders,” the Board of Trustees again reconsidered the need for a mascot change. The board acknowledged that a crusader was historically understood as one who is committed to a worthy cause. It had served our institution well for many years, but they also recognized that in the global climate of the day, the potential existed for the term “Crusaders” to be associated with violence and destruction. Ultimately, as a compromise between strongly held beliefs on both sides of the issue, the University decided to retain the nickname of “Crusaders” but stopped using the image of a crusader as its mascot and began the process of deemphasizing the term within the athletic department and around campus.
In 2016, as concern continued to grow about the cultural meaning-change associated with “Crusaders,” the board appointed a task force composed of NNU trustees, alumni, students, representatives of NNU athletics and faculty members. This task force revisited the possibility of changing the NNU mascot to something that would serve as a name and image around which students and alumni could rally, and would reduce the potential for misunderstanding and potentially impeding the University’s ability to minister to an increasingly interconnected global community.
During the Fall 2017 Board of Trustees meeting, after extensive research, there was a unanimous vote to change the University's nickname and mascot to "Nighthawks." NNU students were welcomed back to campus after Christmas break 2018 with the unveiling of the new Nighthawks mascot which we still proudly celebrate to date.
I hope this logo inspires our athletes to compete at a high level. I hope this logo directs us to see things from others’ point of view. I hope we show compassion as quickly as strength. I hope we all move to work together, not separately, to spread the love of Jesus. In the logo, we focused on the white markings on the wing, speed and focus. These things need to work together in the same direction; if so, they can accomplish a greater goal.