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University Traditions

Female student waving a U of M flag. Student being photographed on commencement day. Drum major leading the U of M marching band. University of Minnesota marching band tuba players.

Motto

Omnibus artibus commune vinculum “a common bond for all the arts”

Regents Seal

The antique lamp on the regents seal represents the metaphysical sciences; the telescope, the physical sciences; the plow, the industrial arts; and the palette with brushes, the fine arts. The Latin motto means "a common bond for all the arts."

Maroon and Gold

In 1880, the University of Minnesota was preparing for spring graduation. For the previous 29 years, different graduation colors were used every ceremony. In the spring of 1880, President Folwell began a tradition of common school colors at the University. He asked an English instructor, Mrs. Augusta Smith, to select proper colors to use for graduation ribbons and other occasions. She chose maroon and gold, which made a favorable impression on the students and faculty in 1880. As the years passed and without any kind of formal action, maroon and gold became the official school colors.

The Pride of Minnesota—Minnesota Marching Band

One of the most exciting and highly visible organizations on campus, the Minnesota Marching Band provides enthusiastic support to the University's athletic programs and represents the University with pride at home and away.

Marching Band members make a significant and vital contribution to the University of Minnesota. The band performs at all Gopher home football games and at the annual Indoor Concert. In addition the band performs an off-campus concert or special event each year.

Ski-U-Mah

This famous Minnesota phrase, pronounced SKY-YOU-MAH, is more than 115 years old. In 1884, two Minnesota rugby players, John W. Adams and Win Sargent, tried to think of a fitting team yell. They used the word “Ski”, a Sioux battle cry meaning victory, and combined it with “U-Mah” (representing the University of Minnesota and rhyming with “rah-rah-rah”) to create a team cheer. The phrase stuck and was incorporated into both official school songs, “Hail Minnesota” and more commonly in the “Minnesota Rouser.”

Cheerleading at Minnesota

One of the most visible traditions in sports was born more than 100 years ago at the University of Minnesota. In the fall of 1898, student Johnny Campbell offered to lead organized cheers at football games. This offer came after three straight losses and a subsequent editorial in the school paper that said, “Any plan that would stir up enthusiasm for athletics would be helpful.” Campbell had a plan, and he began to lead organized cheers at the home game against Northwestern. Minnesota won 17-6, and much of the credit went to Campbell and his “yell leaders.” At that late-season game, the tradition of cheerleading was born.

Gopher Nickname

The Gopher mascot is a tradition as old as the state. Minnesota was tabbed the “Gopher State” in 1857 after a satirizing cartoon, depicting nine Gophers with the heads of local politicians pulling a locomotive, was published. The story was over legislative action for a $5 million railroad proposal in western Minnesota. Later, the University picked up the nickname.

The “Golden” Gophers

The “Golden” adjective has not always been a part of the Gopher nickname. During the 1930, the Minnesota football team wore gold jerseys and pants. Legendary KSTP-AM radio announcer Halsey Hall coined the term “Golden Gophers” in reference to the team’s all-gold attire on the field. From 1932 through 1941, Minnesota compiled an impressive record, losing only 12 games and winning seven Big Ten titles and five national championships—a true “golden” decade of Gopher football.

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