Benny (Patrick H.) with former Oregon State Marching Band director Brad Townsend
|University||Oregon State University|
|Description||Beaver: Aquatic mammal|
|Related mascot(s)||Bernice Beaver|
Benny Beaver is the official mascot of Oregon State University winner of the 2011 Capital One Mascot of the Year write-in campaign. The exact date of when the name was first used as the university's mascot is not known, but photographs in the school's yearbook document its use as early as the 1940s.
The university's school newspaper is the first known organization on campus to adopt the beaver as its namesake and did so as early as 1908. The school yearbook's long use of the name, known as "The Beaver" starting in 1916, eventually helped solidify the beaver as the university's official mascot. The popularity of the beaver was also shared by students at University of Oregon. For several early publishings, students at this school also used "The Beaver" as their yearbook's title.
Oregon State University's first documented use of "Benny Beaver" was found in a photograph showing students posing next to a statue of a beaver inscribed with the name "Benny Beaver." The photograph appears in the 1942 edition of the yearbook.
Prior to the beaver, Oregon State's mascot was an individual known as John Richard Newton Bell (1893–1928). A longtime member of the university's board of regents, Bell became hugely popular among the students for his ritual of marching to the Marys River after each of Oregon State's Civil War victories. He was said to have tossed his top hat into the water as a token of celebration. Earlier mascots include "Jimmie" the Coyote (1892–1893) and "Bulldog" (1906–1910, unofficial and for specific teams only, such as the Wrestling squad). The beaver mascot's name, "Benny," was officially adopted in 1945. Two failed attempts to maintain a live beaver mascot include Bevo Beaver (rescued from Mary's River in 1921 and later stolen ) and Billy Beaver (made mascot in 1935, and later fell ill and died).
The early Benny Beaver "cartoon" icon/logo was created by famous graphic illustrator, and former Disney employee, Arthur C. Evans. As the art director for Angelus Pacific Company, Evans submitted his design to OSU and it was approved for use in 1951. His logos were used at hundreds of other universities and high schools throughout the nation. Evans' beaver logo also appeared in the 1985 movie "Teen Wolf."
A beaver statue was carted around the stadium and in parades in the 1940s, patterned after an earlier bronze statue, went by the name "Benny." The 1941 yearbook shows the statue with the caption "Bill Beaver" while a 1942 yearbook photo of the same beaver statue gives it the name "Benny Beaver". After the statue's demise, the name stuck with "The Gnawed Log," a sports column in the student newspaper the Daily Barometer.
The first live appearance during an athletic event by a mascot named "Benny", was September 18, 1952 and performed by Ken Austin. Austin later founded Newberg, Oregon-based A-dec, the largest privately held dental equipment manufacturer in North America. Austin is now a major Oregon State donor.
Between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, Benny was often joined at sporting events by a co-mascot, known as "Bernice Beaver."
In 1998 No Dinx, a graphic design shop in Albany, Oregon, redesigned the logo for the first time in nearly 50 years (shown below).
In March 2013, working together with Nike, Oregon State University unveiled the latest, newly redesigned version, of the Benny Beaver logo. The new logo replaced the No Dinx design. The Benny Beaver costume also changed to match the new logo in 2001. Benny wears #0 at football games and #6 at basketball games.
In December 2010, Benny Beaver was ranked 13th on a list titled 20 Worst Behaved Mascots Of All Time. Despite the bad press, Benny Beaver won the 2011 Capital One Mascot of the Year write-in campaign, earning the mascot program $1000 and inclusion in the following year's Capital One All-America Mascot Team.
The school's use of the beaver as a mascot is closely linked to Oregon's prominence in the early American fur trade. During the first half of the 1800s, the Oregon Territory was internationally renowned for beaver trapping and later became well known as "The Beaver State."
Much like the gold rush during this same period, trappers trekked from around the globe to make their fortune in the territory's lucrative fur trade. Researchers at the Oregon Historical Society describe the fur as an important economic commodity. "Beaver pelts acquired from European colonies and American territories were sent mostly to London and Paris, where they were sold at large auctions primarily to hat-makers."
The British owned Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), a leading fur trader, constructed a number of large forts/trading posts in the vast Oregon Territory to profit, specifically, from the beaver trade.
The HBC's Columbia District was headquartered at Fort Vancouver. The presence of the HBC in the Oregon Territory played a key role in bringing early commerce and civil laws to the Northwest. Notable district HBC supervisor and Oregon historical figure, John McLoughlin, was credited with helping to make the company's beaver trade highly profitable during this early territorial period.
By the 1830s, beaver furs were viewed by both the British and American Governments as a highly valuable international commodity and the two competing interests laid claim to Oregon's vast territory. In 1847, the British Government conceded ownership to America with the signing of the Oregon Treaty.
The beaver's central role in early Oregon history led students at OSU to adopt the semi-aquatic mammal as the university's mascot.
Other universities and colleges with a beaver mascot
- Babson College -Wellesley, Massachusetts
- Bemidji State University -Bemidji, Minnesota
- Blackburn College -Carlinville, Illinois
- Bluffton College -Bluffton, Ohio
- Buena Vista University -Storm Lake, Iowa
- California Institute of Technology (Caltec) -Pasadena, California
- Champlain College -Burlington, Vermont
- City College of New York -New York, New York
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) -Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Minot State University -Minot, North Dakota
- University of Maine at Farmington -Farmington, Maine
- University of Toronto -Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- "Willamatte Lost to O.A.C. 28-0". The O.A.C. Barometer.
- "OSU Libraries - Chronological History". Oregon State University Library. 2004. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- "OSU Sports History Minute - February 16, 2001". Oregon State University Beaver E-Clips. 2001. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- "Real, live beaver may become Aggie mascot". Barometer. April 22, 1921.
- "A History of Athletic Mascots at Oregon State University". Oregon State University OSU Alumni Association. 2001. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Edmondston, George P. "Building a Better Mousetrap". OSU Alumni Association. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
- "Benny Beaver (Interim)". Beaver Yearbook Collection. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- "20 Worst Behaved Mascots Of All Time: No. 13 Benny Beaver of Oregon State". Bleacher Report. 2010-12-19. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
- "Oregon State’s "Benny The Beaver" wins write-in campaign and shot at next year’s title". BusinessWire. 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
- None listed (2008). "Fad for Furs". End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- Katrine Barber (None provided). "The Story of Statehood". Center for Columbia River History. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- T. Gibson & Company/Joshua Binus (2004). "Mens' Stove Pipe Hat". The Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-10-24.