Spartanburg Community College hopes its new mascot will inspire students to chase their goals.
Chaser the Border Collie, the college’s new mascot, was revealed by President Michael Mikota to much applause from those attending the Tuesday celebration. Chaser was chosen to embody the mentality of the college's students who are working to achieve their dreams.
"Whatever we're segmented by, we're all associated with the one true power of coming together to accomplish our dreams, and at Spartanburg Community College, we dream it, we chase it, and we live it," Mikota said.
The college's new mascot is modeled after the world-famous dog of the same name. Often called “the world's smartest dog,” Chaser was taught to recognize more than 1,000 words by her owner, the late John Pilley, professor emeritus of Psychology at Wofford College, studying animal cognition. Researchers Pilley and Alliston Reid’s work gave the world greater insight into dogs’ capabilities and how they learn.
Pilley’s daughters Deb Pilley Bianchi and Robin Pilley attended the mascot announcement. The mascot is the second honoring of their father and Chaser’s legacy this year, following the reveal of a statue of Chaser in Morgan Square last May.
Pilley Bianchi encouraged students to find their callings, just like her father did, and to go for it, whatever their dreams are.
"Learning shouldn't be for the elite; it should be for everybody and anybody who wants to learn," Pilley Bianchi said. "SCC is the place where you can do that."
While the college does not currently have any sports teams, members of the school community will now be unified as SCC Chasers.
Students at the college's four other campuses will be able to meet the new mascot and grab some swag later this week. The college will also hold Chaser Spirit Days every Friday through the end of the year.
Mikota and partners at One Spartanburg, Inc. and Spartanburg Academic Movement also provided an update during the celebration about an initiative that has been helping many SCC students chase their dreams. The college announced in May that it would offer tuition-free scholarships to all students taking at least six credit hours for the 2021-22 academic year.
At the halfway point in the initiative, the college has seen substantial growth with enrollment having increased 32 percent overall since 2019. The college is at a historic high in enrollment with a total of 6,097 students this year. They also have seen a 66 percent increase in adult enrollment of students age 24 and older.
“When we announced this initiative in May, we envisioned a unique opportunity to give back to the community and reengage those who may have seen their education and career advancement opportunities placed on hold," Mikota said. "While we anticipated a positive response, we have truly been amazed by the results.”
Samantha Swann covers Spartanburg County K-12 schools and colleges and the food scene in downtown and beyond. She is a University of South Carolina Upstate and Greenville Technical College alumna. Contact her at JSwann@gannett.com.
This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: Spartanburg Community College mascot is revealed: meet the SCC Chasers