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Festive & Fuzzy!

The fifth annual Ten with Ken Holiday Special continues our review of highlights from more than 500 college and university greeting videos released around the world last December. In part 3, “Festive & Fuzzy,” we turn to the cuddlier side of the season, with a look at campus mascots, puppy dogs, and classic movies.

Mascots appear often in holiday videos, as we saw in parts 1 and 2, including the University of Virginia’s Cavalier, Upper Iowa University’s Pete the Peacock, Wheaton College’s Roary the Lion, James Madison University’s Duke Dog, and Cape Breton University’s Caper.  Mascots played Santa as well, such as JW the Mustang in Western University’s video.  At Atlanta’s Emory University, it was not the official mascot, Swoop the Eagle, but the “spirit” of campus, Dooley the Biology Lab Skeleton, who played Santa. The best-in-class “Mascot as Santa” video, though, came from the University of Alabama: Big Al, the elephant, was rushing around campus dispensing gifts, when he needs to figure out how to cheer up a disappointed little girl.

Although cat videos (like my current fave, Owl Kitty) dominate the internet, when it comes to higher ed holiday videos, it’s all canines all the way! They make cameo appearances at tree-lighting ceremonies, music recitals, and even serve as a prop for presidents. An adorable golden retriever puppy warmed up the bonfire at Algoma University. Two malteses cheered up a fireside chat from Quinnipiac University president Judy Olian. At Duke University, president Vincent Price recited a poem to his golden doodle and labradoodle.

Dogs are also increasingly the stars of holiday videos. Teddy and Travis toured the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University. At North Carolina’s Meredith College, president Jo Allen’s dog Bachelor has starred in holiday greetings for years – delivering ornaments and candy canes, making a fitness resolution and hitting the treadmill. Last year, he took us on an aerial tour of campus, flying his WWI prop plane. Bachelor has earned a special lifetime achievement award for his contributions so far.

Landmark College president Peter Eden talked to the animals – by Facetime!  And the campus therapy dogs texted each other.  And speaking of therapy dogs, the theme of well-being has been increasing in holiday videos. The SAIT Student Association released several videos last year emphasizing support services. The Thompson Rivers University student life office produced a tongue-in-cheek video about winter wellness. And of course, plenty of videos focus on homesickness and loneliness.

Lonely mascots often find a happy ending. At the University of California Merced, Rufus the Bobcat felt neglected by busy students until he launched a campus feel-good initiative. At the University of Guelph, Gryph snuggled up to watch holiday videos with president Franco Vaccarino. At Scotland’s University of Stirling, the mascot Squirrel was deeply depressed until he was brought into a warm circle of friends to celebrate the holidays. “Be the Difference” was the best-in-class video of this type last year.

Often, lonely mascots parody classic Christmas movies like “Home Alone,” eating tons of ice cream and getting into trouble. Last year it was Penn State’s Nittany Lion, and the University of Alberta’s GUBA the golden bear.  But we also saw the president of Regis University, Father John Fitzgibbons, recreating holiday classics like “Home Alone,” “Elf,” “Christmas Vacation” and even “Love Actually.” With even higher production standards, the John Chambers School of Business & Economics at West Virginia U produced a wonderful best-in-class collection of movie parodies. It was matched only by another outstanding parody of “Christmas Vacation” from the University of Tennessee – Martin, in which Chancellor Keith Carver performs superbly. Of course, the other popular holiday movie parody was “The Grinch,” from UK’s Newcastle & Stafford Colleges Group to Bellarmine University.

This episode contains clips from more than 500 higher ed holiday videos that Ken collected last year.

And we’ve started collecting 2019 higher ed holiday videos in this YouTube playlist.

If you want to add one to our 2019 list, please use this special link.

After 3 parts and 40 minutes, we may have done what we can for this month.  Ten with Ken will be back in January with more serious topics, from virtual reality in pedagogy, to student mental health and therapy dogs.  To be sure you don’t miss a thing, be sure to subscribe at

Best wishes for a peaceful holiday season, and a happy and prosperous new year!


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