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Marian University welcomes new campus guide: Little Frank

Little Frank Marian University

Marian University Indianapolis | Fair Use via YouTube

J-P Mauro - published on 08/22/23

Straight from the Jim Henson Creature Shop, Little Frank is an altogether unique way to inform students and bring them together.

Students of Marian University are in for a treat this year, as the Indiana-based Catholic school is welcoming a new campus guide, Little Frank. Short for St. Francis, Little Frank is a puppet and the new mascot for Marian’s undergraduates, who will benefit from his hints and tips on campus life popping up on monitors throughout the day. 

In an introduction video, featured below, Little Frank introduces himself and shows off the campus in a montage that splices shots of Little Frank’s antics with students enjoying the university’s offerings. The videos are breif but full of character as Little Frank meets campus personalities like Sister Mary Beth and Karma the Therapy Dog.

The first thing that struck us was how familiar the puppet looked, and that’s because he was designed by the professionals at the Jim Henson Creature Shop. That’s right, it’s a genuine Muppet, which gives it a throwback feel while bringing the 12th-century saint to life in an adorable, wholesome form. 

While the puppet is beautifully crafted, the character is completed by the excellent performance of Spencer Lott, who puppeteers and voices Little Frank. Among his many accomplished roles, Lott has worked on three of the most popular Henson productions – The Muppet Show,Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock – and it shows in his fluid puppet work and quick wit. 

For example, at one point in the video Little Frank talks with Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener, who tries to call them both contemporaries, but the puppet fires back “I have a few … 800 years on you, otherwise contemporaries.” While it’s possible the bit was scripted, Elsener is no actor and his amusement with Little Frank suggests that it was off the cuff.

On the Marian University website, the school gives some more info on Little Frank, offering the fun fact that he is the patron saint of animals, his favorite emoji is the “heart hands,” and his favorite section of campus is the St. Francis Colonnade. Little Frank also offered a message to all of Marian’s students: 

“I know sometimes college can feel a little intimidating or confusing. Students just like you are trying to understand financial aid, decide a major, figure out roommates, and more. I am here to help! You will see me pop up with reminders, advice, or info about your college journey.”

Marian University has already produced seven brief, fun videos to acquaint the student body with Little Francis, as well as with the campus at large. Watch them all and learn more about this quirky, altogether unique campus guide at Marian University’s website.

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