While gnomes’ roly-poly appearance may seem an unlikely choice for a collegiate mascot, the Noorda-COM gnome has quite a lengthy
(and meaningful) origin story.

In early 2020, several Noorda-COM employees discussed how to increase awareness of Utah Valley’s first osteopathic medical school. One employee remembered a famous travel ad that always featured gnomes. Half-jokingly, he suggested that Noorda-COM add gnomes to its campus tours to stand out.

That evening, Dr. Michael Rhodes, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, returned home and walked out to his garden, where a doctor gnome had sat for years. He presented it to Director of Student Affairs, Jamie Dougherty, and gave her full creative license. Jamie scrubbed the gnome, painted it in school colors, and named it “Norm L. G-Nome.”

Norm started showing up in early social media posts, and gnome cutouts were included in a video of a campus tour. Suddenly, all of campus caught the gnome fever: employee desks, orientation activities, and annual events featured paintable gnomes, gnome cookies, and gnome puns.

Today, you’ll find a variety of gnomes all across campus. Chubby gnomes, spindly gnomes. Doctor gnomes. Holiday gnomes. Sleepy gnomes, laughing gnomes—you name it, and we’ve probably got it! But the variety of gnomes at Noorda-COM isn’t an indicator of brand inconsistency, claims Dr. Rhodes:

“While its higher purpose wasn’t immediately clear, the gnome has quickly grown on me because it’s inclusive. It can have any skin color, accessory, or occupation. If you formulate or follow a stereotype for what a ‘typical’ medical school mascot should look like, there’s a lot less to imagine. We want our students to feel encouraged and be confident that their unique self should not have to be sacrificed to become a successful doctor.”

Enjoy these iconic gnome moments from over the last few years: