Spirit and Traditions

Traditions build and strengthen the University spirit. Started and continued by students, traditions are carried on by word of mouth to the next class or generation and supported by the University community – connecting us to our alma mater.

Current Traditions: We Keep Traditions Alive!

  • Carillon Bells: located in the Alumni Memorial Chapel, the bells chime on the hour and play tunes at noon and 5 p.m.
  • Golden Graduates: the 50-year reunion class, recognized at Homecoming and Commencement
  • Hanging of the Greens: a tradition since Lena C. Clauve, former UNM student and UNM Dean of Women, began it in the 1930s. The tradition started with students driving to the Sandia Moun­tains, where they would gather greenery, which they would use to decorate the Student Union Building.
  • Homecoming King and Queen: the student body elects a king and queen and six attendants (three male and three female) to serve as the homecoming court. The first homecoming queen was crowned in 1935. The crowning of the king began in 1980.
  • Homecoming: held each fall to welcome back alumni
  • Lobo Day: a celebration for the founding date of the University, February 28, 1889.
  • Lobo Head: extend the second and fifth fingers and touch the thumb to the third and fourth fingers, cheering, "Everyone's a Lobo! Woof! Woof! Woof!"
  • Nizhoni Days: held in the spring, recognizing the Native American cultures
  • Ring Ceremony: new graduates receive their UNM rings and dip their ringed hand into a vat of red dye (representing UNM Cherry).
  • Stand and Clap at Basketball Games: fans stand and clap until each team makes its first basket.
  • UNM Fiestas: an end-of-the-year celebration held in the spring, begun in 1948.

Former Traditions: Times Have Changed . . .

  • Cannon shot at Football Games: after every Lobo touchdown and when the team takes the field
  • Class Memorials: it was customary for the graduating class to leave something behind on campus, e.g., the benches in front of Hodgin Hall.
  • Electric U: a large illuminated "U" was placed atop Hodgin Hall in the 1920s and lighted when the Lobos were victorious.
  • Freshmen Beanies: freshmen students had to wear a green beanie skullcap.
  • Highland Line: streetcars originally made the trip up Railroad Avenue (now Central Avenue) to the University.
  • House Decorating and Homecoming: the sororities and fraternities and many campus organizations decorated their houses and dorms during homecoming, and townspeople turned out in droves to see them.
  • Mirage Yearbook: school annual, ended in 1979. The name Mirage was adopted by the Alumni Association magazine in 1985.
  • Okie Joe's: a popular campus watering hole located at University and Central.
  • U Mountain: the small hill at the end of Copper Avenue in the Sandia Foothills used to display a large whitewashed "U".
  • Victory Bell: the bell was brought to all football games and rung to encourage spirit.

The "Lobo" Nickname

A number of legends have arisen over the years as to how The University of New Mexico got Lobo as its official nickname. When the university started playing football in 1892, the team was simply referred to as "The University Boys" or "Varsities" to distinguish themselves from the prep school students. The UNM student body, as early as 1917, began to seriously explore the possibilities for both a mascot and a new name for the student newspaper, which was simply called the "U.N.M. Weekly." Several names for the paper were suggested, including The Rattler, the Sand Devil, the Ki-yo-te and the Cherry and Silver. However, there was no single name that struck a responsive chord among the students and when school opened in the Fall of 1920 the U.N.M. Weekly was still there.

On Sept. 22, 1920, sophomore George S. Bryan, editor of the U.N.M. Weekly and student manager of the football team, was present at a Student Council meeting for the purpose of suggesting that the University teams be given a mascot name because at that time many universities had mascot names for their teams. Bryan suggested Lobo, the Spanish word for wolf, as the nickname. The name was enthusiastically received.

The Oct. 1, 1920 issue of the student paper said: "The Lobo is respected for his cunning, feared for his prowess, and is the leader of the pack. It is the ideal name for the Varsity boys who go forth to battle for the glory of the school. All together now; fifteen rahs for the LOBOS." From that beginning, the Lobo nickname has remained with The University of New Mexico for more than 80 years.

The Lobo Mascot

After Lobo was adopted as the school's nickname in 1920, it was not long thereafter that a real Lobo became the mascot. Bruno Dieckmann, class of 1902, and by 1920 a successful Albuquerque insurance and real estate agent, acquired the first Lobo for the University at his own expense. At the time he was treasurer of the Athletic Association.

Elsie Ruth Chant, class of 1923, recalled, "He either caught it himself or he paid to have a wolf captured in the Mount Taylor area. The wolf was brought into the school and a student by the name of Bowman would take it on a leash to the football practice area."

Apparently, a government trapper named Jim Young caught a wolf pup on the Floyd Lee Ranch near Mount Taylor in western part of the state. The cub became the responsibility of the cheerleaders and it appeared in harness at every football game. However, in the late 20s, a child teased the wolf and the child was bitten at one of the games. UNM officials were forced to dispose of the wolf, as one historian put it, "for fear other ill-bred brats might become tempted to play with the wolf and bring a damage suit."

A live wolf has really never been a part of the athletics scene since. In the early 1960s a human mascot named Lobo Louie was created. A second mascot, Lobo Lucy was created in the early 1980s. Both are now members of the school's cheerleading squad.

UNM's School Colors & Logo

The University of New Mexico's cherry and silver colors are well recognized to its students, faculty, staff and alumni. However, more than 100 years ago, the school boasted black and gold as its colors of choice. In the early 1980s, faculty member Ms. Harriet Jenness suggested changing the University's colors because black and gold did not give a true feeling of New Mexico. She suggested the crimson evening glow of the majestic Sandia Mountains.

Crimson was soon paired with silver because of students and faculty who took picnics in the Sandia Mountains and noted the Rio Grande River looked like a silver ribbon winding through the valley below.

The crimson was later changed to cherry, the color of a Sandia sunset. From 1973-79, turquoise was integrated into the official school colors, at least, for the athletics teams. Cherry and silver returned as the predominant colors in 1980.

University Seal & Logo

UNM President Edward Dundas MacQueen Gray designed the seal, which was adopted around 1912. It includes elements symbolizing the United States, France, the provinces and conquistadores of Spain, the Aztec Indians, and the American frontier. In 1914, the seal's Latin motto, Lux Hominum Vita — "Light is the life of man" — was added. The University logo began as a graphic for the UNM Centennial celebration in 1989, and was afterwards adopted as the new symbol for UNM. Derived from the southwestern architecture of the University's campus, it is a drawing of the Mesa Vista Hall tower.

The UNM Fight Song

The UNM fight Song was written in 1930. The music to the Fight Song was written by Dean Lena Clauve, who served the University for 32 years as a professor of music education and as the Dean of Women. Dr. George St. Clair, professor in the English Department, wrote the lyrics:

Hail to thee, New Mexico,
Thy loyal sons are we. Marching down the field we go, fighting for thee.
Now we pledge our faith to thee, never shall we fail.
Fighting ever, yielding never.

The UNM Alma Mater

The Alma Mater was a source of contention at UNM in 1947. The original Alma Mater was set to the tune of "Annie Lyle," which was an unpopular tune with the student body for a long period of time. The student body voted in a general election to change the Alma Mater and found Glee Club Director Craig Summers to oblige. Actually Mr. Summers and his father wrote the present Alma Mater three years before and called it "The New Mexico Hymn."

New Mexico, New Mexico
We sing to honor thee.
This golden haze of college days
Will live in memory.
This praise we sing will ever ring
With truth and loyalty.
New Mexico, your fame we know
Will last eternally.

For questions or more information:

Alumni Relations Office
O: 505-277-5808
800-ALUM-UNM (258-6866)
E: alumni@unm.edu