MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — There are some new pins popping up around the University of South Alabama’s campus. It’s an initiative started by the university’s new president.
University of South Alabama President Jo Bonner explained how the idea came about. He said, “We were getting together early in my presidency last year and trying to come up with something different.”
The current president said that his former career helped influence the marketing team at South to come up with the presidential pins.
“In my former life, I was in public service,” said Bonner. “And, you know, politicians give out cards and give out pins and bumper stickers.”
The solution ended up being a growing pin collection.
“The idea really is simple,” said Bonner. “It’s, have you ever been to Disney World? You remember going and collecting the pins, the little collectibles. Well those pins, are probably $10 or $15, maybe more now. And you buy them, then you swap them.”
The buttons don’t cost students a dime. Bonner said he’s seeing them more and more on campus. He said it’s a fun way for students to show their school pride.
“You know, we turned 60 this year, so we are still a young university, relatively speaking, but we’ve got a university with a lot of fun traditions,” said Bonner. “And this is just a new tradition to be part of the South Alabama family.”
There are already several designs. “We got to have South Paw, and then we got to have Miss Paula,” said Bonner. He continued, “About 42% of our students are in the allied health field, so we’ve got South Paw with a stethoscope.”
Bonner said that as he puts out more designs, they continue to grow in popularity.
He said, “We’ve just continued to introduce the buttons. And the more buttons we get, the more the students want them.”
WKRG News 5’s Dana Winter asked, “Are there any in the collection that are just difficult to come across because they’re a limited run?” Bonner responded, “Yep. We only made one run of these.”
He continued, “During my inauguration, several months ago, we rolled out the flagship band, and this is a limited edition. There were 500 of them. There will never be more.”
President Jo Bonner passes out the pins just about every time he leaves his office.
“I was over at a volleyball game a few months ago and I ran out of buttons because the buttons were more popular than the president was,” he said. “And that’s okay.”
There’s even a little friendly competition to collect them all.
WKRG News 5’s Dana Winter asked, “And so if somebody has all the buttons, then they come up to you, what’s, what is the deal there?” Bonner responded, “I’ll buy them a drink.”
He continued, “I’ll buy them a drink at the Hancock Whitney if it’s a football game. I’ll buy them a drink at the Mitchell Center if it’s basketball.”
President Bonner added that WKRG News 5 got an exclusive look at all of the pins.
“Prior to this interview, nobody has ever seen all the buttons together,” said Bonner. “So this is an exclusive for national news right here in Mobile, Alabama. But now you all can count up how many buttons we’ve got.”
According to Bonner, no one has claimed the prize, but there might be a good reason. He explained, “because I keep introducing a button.”
If you’re thinking about being the first to collect them all you’d better act fast. Bonner said that after this year the university will start retiring some of the pins.
“It will become something that we’ll want to collect,” said Bonner.