ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Regents at New Mexico’s largest university have decided on a new design for the school’s official seal to replace one that had sparked protests.
University of New Mexico officials confirmed Monday that the decision was made during a recent meeting, but it will likely take more than a year for the new seal to be fully rolled out and put to use. More meetings are planned this week to discuss each use of the seal and how to phase out the previous graphic.
The fight over the seal has spanned years. The university began using an interim seal in 2017 following protests by Native American student groups over concerns that the seal, which had been used for decades, featured a sword-carrying Spanish conquistador and a rifle-toting frontiersman.
The university proposed five options earlier this year, giving the public a chance to vote. The most popular design had a howling Lobo and the Sandia Mountains in the background.
Regents instead went with the recommendation of a committee, which chose a more simplified design that officials said would better reflect the university on diplomas and graduation apparel.
Regent Sandra Begay said the years-long process saw considerable input.
“I think the process was trying to be inclusive of everybody’s voice. A popular vote was a marker. I don’t think it was ever said that would be the winner,” she said. “The decision of the seal is for the regents to decide.”
University officials had said the goal was to choose a design that was more inclusive, aspirational and reflected the academic mission of New Mexico’s flagship institution.
Some of the regents during last week’s virtual meeting questioned the process, saying students and the public were under the impression the design favored in the poll would be forwarded to the regents for consideration. Regent Kim Sanchez Rael said the poll was meant as a way to gather input to help inform the process and that officials had to consider the scale and size of the design for reproduction purposes.
Ethan Rule, director of marketing for the university, said the implementation process will take time because of the production schedules for so many of the items where the seal appears. That includes diploma frames and diplomas, which are preprinted for each class. That means the new seal will not be on the fall 2020 batch of diplomas.
“It will also take some time to trademark the seal because it must be in circulation and have proof of use before we can apply for a trademark,” he said.
The university also uses the seal on transcripts, banners, commencement regalia and other university documents.