Transylvania History: The Story of “Rafy,” the Bat


The bat is a fitting mascot for a school named Transylvania. When students say they attend Transylvania, they are met with strange looks and sneers as the other person is likely picturing eerie castles, bats, and vampires. But Rafy, our beloved mascot, might not have the origin one might think. His story goes beyond conforming to a stereotype and is a fascinating piece of Transylvanian history. 

From 1819-1826, Samuel Constantine Rafinesque was a biology professor here at Transylvania. Specifically, he was a professor of botany. During his time at Transylvania, he published thousands of scientific names for plants and hundreds for animals. 

The story goes that some bats fluttered into fellow professor John James Audubon’s candle-lit cottage while Rafinesque was staying one night. Rafinesque proceeded to attack the bats with Audubon’s violin. Upon further examination, Rafinesque believed he had discovered a new species. And he had– this story was the discovery of the big-eared bat. 

In December 2017, Transylvania decided to honor the professor and his discovery by introducing Rafy, the Big-eared bat. Today, the mascot plays a significant role in the recruitment of students and instilling school spirit.