1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Our Mascot

In 2017, Transylvania announced a new Pioneer athletic mascot, Raf, who pays homage to the university’s legendary professor, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, a charismatic naturalist whose tomb is on the first floor of Transylvania’s main administrative building, Old Morrison. The campus also boasts a café bearing his name.  For nearly two decades, Transy was without a Pioneer mascot. Raf was developed through a combination of two years of interviews with current and prospective student-athletes and extensive marketing research. Rafinesque’s passion for bats is the stuff of legend. John James Audubon described hearing a loud commotion one night while Rafinesque was staying at his cottage. Apparently, some bats had fluttered into Rafinesque’s candlelit room through an open window to feed on moths. Raf attacked the bats with the famous ornithologist’s favorite violin, destroying the instrument in the process. While Rafinesque was overjoyed at what he thought was the discovery of a new species, Audubon didn’t share his excitement—both because he doubted it was even a new species, and obviously because of the violin. Today, Transylvania’s mascot is a Rafinesque’s big-eared bat. These Kentucky forest dwellers with freakishly large listeners play an important ecological role by keeping insect populations in check—just as Raf plays an important role at Transy by firing up crowds at Pioneer sporting events and helping recruit new students.