As you giddy on through the UTD campus, you might spot a certain redheaded amorphous comet. But there’s no need to quake in your boots — he’s just your friendly mascot, Temoc!
On April 20, 1998, UTD Alumnus Aaron Aryanpur designed “Blaze,” a blue-skinned humanoid comet and the first iteration of UTD’s mascot, as a tribute to UTD’s extensive research in the astrophysics and space fields. The name “Blaze” was changed to Temoc, or “comet” spelled backward, after UTD faced a copyright dispute from UT Arlington in 2002 over their shared mascot names.
UTD has been renowned for its top-notch astrophysics and space research programs since the university’s founding by Erik Jonsson, Cecil Green and Eugene McDermott in 1969. Specialists and experts visited the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, which is what UTD was known as in those days, in early-stage organizations to conduct professional research after the Graduate Research Center started to explore Earth’s upper atmosphere. The university started off as a graduate school but welcomed its first freshman class in 1990, establishing schools such as NSM and ECS. Temoc is a hat-tip to UTD’s great accomplishments in this field and an icy companion to the fiery ambitions of UTD scientists and researchers.
Though Temoc is one of the most popular folks on campus and UTD meme pages, students and administration weren’t so fond of him circa 2007-2009. Poor Temoc had to stare down the barrel of a gun when the campus population held multiple votes and polls to replace him with other potential characters including a fox, hawk, coyote or man in a spacesuit. Temoc came out on top through these polls and lives on today at UTD, albeit with some cosmetic modifications to the original mascot suit. The original Temoc suit is in the Activity Center, ready to say howdy to newcomers.
Temoc is not the only backward-spelled mascot on campus. In the last two years, there have been two unofficial mascots, Enarc and Tobor, who have also tried to steal the show. The legend of Enarc — or crane — comes from students believing it would elevate their academic standing during a time of high construction on campus. And when the Starship food delivery robots came in, students quickly fell in love with the cute white machines. But all three mascots are still prevalent in UTD’s knee-slapping meme culture, which dominates the school subreddit.
Now, tenderfoots might look at Temoc and balk at his wide, Cheshire cat-like smile and bulging eyes. But we can assure you that he has a spirited heart and loves spreading joy at UTD. Don’t be shy; swing by spirit or sports events at UTD and ask him for a photo!