07/14/2020 McMurry News

Abilene, TX


McMurry University announced today the unanimous approval of a Board of Trustees resolution eliminating Tipi Village as a homecoming activity. Recently, the University began to examine Tipi Village and how the activity could be perceived by some to be dishonoring American Indian tribes rather than the original intention of bringing honor to their culture and lifestyle. In a June 26, 2020, meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to eliminate Tipi Village as a homecoming activity.

In alignment with a 2005 NCAA policy, in 2011 McMurry University adopted the War Hawk as the University’s mascot. This policy prohibited the use of potentially offensive imagery by institutions wanting to compete in NCAA championships. This resolution further aligns with that policy.

“While we appreciate and cherish the significance of Tipi Village in McMurry University’s history, it is imperative that we move forward embracing our new War Hawk mascot and in demonstrating and living by the institutional values consistent with the University’s Christian teachings,” said J. Stephen Sundby, chair of the Board of Trustees.

“We know this decision will be disappointing for many alumni, students, and community members who have fond memories of Tipi Village, as does my family,” said President Sandra S. Harper, PhD. “Yet, I am confident that our current students, with the support of our dedicated alumni, will design a new tradition that will guide the University through its second century. Let’s unite to create a thriving future for McMurry University.”


Whereas McMurry University is dedicated to the respect of all individuals through hospitality and gracious interactions in order to better prepare women and men of all backgrounds to engage others in working toward the common good;

Whereas McMurry University considers respect for diversity in its broadest sense to be an institutional core competency;

Whereas McMurry University expects its academic community and alumni to perform as servant leaders in diverse and complex environments;

Whereas solidarity against racism and injustice is important to embody as an institutional value consistent with our Christian teachings;

Whereas certain McMurry University traditions that initially may have been planned to honor Native American tribes could now be considered as dishonoring those groups by prospective students, current students, faculty members, staff, and the broader community;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the McMurry University practice of constructing Tipi Village and conducting Tipi tours will no longer take place in any form or at any time or on any spot on the McMurry University campus and will no longer be an institutionally sponsored activity that is condoned by the University, effective immediately, and alternative practices will be pursued to ensure a positive emphasis at McMurry University. This decision is made during this duly constituted meeting of the McMurry University Board of Trustees on this 26th day of June in the year 2020.


Message from Board Chair J. Stephen Sundby on behalf of McMurry University Board of Trustees

Dear McMurry University Community:

On June 26, 2020, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution eliminating Tipi Village as a homecoming activity. That action was partially in recognition that the COVID pandemic makes the creation of Tipi Village impossible for 2020. But more importantly, the Trustees agreed that Tipi Village has suffered in quality and authenticity over the years and failed to honor the traditions and culture of our Indigenous people throughout the United States. Finally, for 10 years now, McMurry’s mascot has been the War Hawk. It is time our Homecoming traditions reflect such.

While we appreciate the historical significance of this student activity in McMurry’s history, McMurry University must move forward, demonstrating cultural understanding and inclusion that embody the institutional values consistent with our Christian teachings.

McMurry University began reflecting on its institutional history with the 2014 strategic plan’s adoption, McMurry Momentum, and continues to as we look forward to our 2023 Centennial. McMurry’s mission and core values have always guided in-depth discussions and introspection and continue to inspire our campus community today, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

McMurry University Core Values:

Christian faith as the foundation of life;
Personal relationships as the catalyst for life;
Learning as the journey life;
Excellence as the goal of life;
and Service at the measure of life.

The current Covid-19 crisis has prompted us to think about things differently – to do things differently – to imagine our traditions differently.


J. Stephen Sundby
Chair of the Board of Trustees
McMurry University


Press Release (PDF)

Board Statement (PDF)


Press Contact

Alaisha Montanez ’11