Traditions of The University of Southern Mississippi
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The traditions of The University of Southern Mississippi are deeply treasured and the Alumni Association, in conjunction with the Student Alumni Association, The Legacy, take a lead role in promoting and advancing these celebrations of Southern Miss as they were originally intended. The University's traditions are protected by a resolution, signed by University President Dr. Martha Saunders and Alumni Association President Lou Ann Poynter, which establishes the Association's Traditions Committee as a clearinghouse for proposed additions, deletions or alterations to the University's recognized traditions. The Alumni Association and The Legacy invite alumni, friends, students, faculty, staff and fans of the Golden Eagles to regularly practice the traditions of the University. Southern Miss to the Top!
Some of the University's traditions are included below. A more extensive list can be found in The Drawl, the history and traditions manual of The University of Southern Mississippi.
The University's youngest tradition, "Lighting the Way for the Holidays," is sponsored by the Student Government Association on the Hattiesburg campus. This campus celebration includes holiday music, hot chocolate and photos with Southern Miss mascot Seymour and Santa Clause. The University's 30-foot Christmas tree, which features more than 17,000 lights, sit on the front lawn of the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building. In addition, approximately 30 small Christmas trees adorn the front entrance to campus, decorated by student organization and other Southern Miss departments. Each year groups that sponsor a tree also raise money to benefit a local nonprofit organization or agency.
School Colors - Black and Gold
Black and gold have been Southern Miss’ colors since the beginning, thanks to Florence Burrow Pope who, with her husband Moran, was in the school’s first class in 1912. In an oral history recorded by former President William D. McCain in 1965, Mrs. Pope told of being the senior class sponsor at Carson School during the 1910-11 school year when her classmates debated about the selection of the class colors.
The Official Ring
Official Ring was created by a group of students, faculty, staff, and
alumni, and is adorned with images of the University, including the Gulf
Official Ring is awarded each year to students and/or alumni who are
academically eligible at the Official Ring Ceremony, held in conjunction
with Founders' Day.
For more information, or to order an Official Ring, click here.
March 30, 1910, is USM’s official birthday, and in 1955, the Alumni Association designated March 30 as MSC Day. The day was to be observed wherever former students resided, and its purpose was “to build up a little more custom and tradition concerning the college.” The day has been observed in some fashion ever since.
Today, the celebration includes celebration includes ceremonies in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast and gatherings of alumni and friends across the country and around the globe. New Southern Miss Hall of Fame students members are honored and other University awards are presented on this day every year.
Homecoming / Eagle Fest
Each fall, Southern Miss holds its Homecoming Weekend. Festivities begin as early as Monday and continue through Sunday evening. All areas of campus get involved. A Homecoming parade, golf tournaments, concerts, banquets, reunions, tailgating and a pep rally are just some of the events
happening around the Saturday football game.
Eagle Fest is an annual event held each spring as a second homecoming for past, present and potential Golden Eagles alike. Student representatives are on hand to introduce their organizations to prospective students and their parents. Tours of the campus are given. The Golden Eagles baseball team hosts a C-USA weekend series, while the football team hosts the Black and Gold game. The Black and Gold game is the first chance fans have to see the team in action for the upcoming fall season.
The Golden Eagles
Over the years, Southern Miss has experienced an evolution of mascots. The earliest nickname for the University’s athletic teams was Tigers, but early teams were also referred to as Normalites. Then, in 1924, our teams’ name was changed to Yellow Jackets.
When the school was renamed Mississippi Southern College in 1940, a name change for the athletic teams was fitting. In April 1940, the student body voted to name the teams Confederates. The teams were called the Confederates during fall 1940 and spring 1941. In September 1941, Confederates was dropped, and the teams were named Southerners. Several years later, in 1953, General Nat (for Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest) was approved as the Southerners’ mascot. The first General Nat was Archie Hughes, and Nat’s horse was named Son of Dixie.
In 1972, alumni, faculty, students and staff were asked to submit new names for the athletic teams, and an ad hoc committee appointed by the Alumni Association voted on the submissions to replace Our present mascot, the Golden Eagles, was chosen as the athletic teams’ name, and the new mascot was eventually named Seymour, an individual in a golden eagle costume. (Two students usually share the responsibility of portraying Seymour.)
Seymour’s full name is Seymour d’Campus. The name was inspired by the 1984 World’s Fair mascot, Seymour d’Fair, who was played by former Southern Miss mascot Jeff Davis ’83.
Southern Miss to the Top!
The Southern Miss to the Top! Response Cheer is used among Southern Miss alumni, students and supporters. The initiator of the cheer says “Southern Miss!” The responder says “To the Top!” Hand signals accompany the cheer, which are two gestures upward with the index finger, done by both the initiator and responder.
The Dixie Darlings
In 1952, President R.C. Cook recruited Raymond Mannoni from the University of Topeka as band director and told him to build a good band with lots of majorettes. As a result, the band increased in size and the precision dance twirl team, the Dixie Darlings, was formed. In January 1954, Dr. Mannoni observed a young woman named Joyce Scimeca (now Joyce McHenry) performing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Joyce was a member of the Rangerettes, a precision dance team at Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas. In June 1954, Dr. Mannoni contacted Joyce and asked if she would like to come to then Mississippi Southern College and help begin a dance team similar to the Rangerettes. After auditioning for Dr. Mannoni, Joyce was offered a full scholarship.
Shortly after practice sessions for the group began, Dr. Mannoni called the girls together and asked them to suggest a name for the new group. Dixie Dancers was suggested by one member, and Joyce Scimeca suggested Dixie Darlings. The DD’s original uniform was a black velvet top and shorts. The top featured gold braid over a scooped neck, and a gold tassel adorned each side of the shorts. The girls wore white gloves and white boots with black fringe.
Since their inception more than a half a century ago, the Dixie Darlings have represented the spirit and tradition of Southern Miss athletics.
The Eagle Walk at The Rock
Over the past century, Southern Miss has enjoyed a proud history of athletic excellence. For example, our football team boasts two national championships in football, Conference USA championships, All-Americans and significant bowl victories.
The Eagle Walk, located under the east side of The Rock (M.M. Roberts Stadium) on Eagle Walk Drive, displays the memories of Southern Miss’ past and the promise of its future. It is a living monument that recognizes the greatness of all those who, on Saturdays during the fall, have had the privilege of going to battle for the Black and Gold.
The All-American Rose Garden
Planted in 1973 by the Hattiesburg Area Rose Society, the Rose Garden is maintained by the USM Physical Plant.
In 1975, the garden was approved as an accredited Public Rose Garden by All-American Rose Selections Inc. It was featured in the September 1992 issue of American Rose magazine.
Located near the front entrance of the campus, the semicircular garden consists of 32 separate beds, each containing its own unique hybrid of rose.
The lush, brightly colored flowers have enticed countless Southern Miss students to pick the blossoms, despite concerns that the University fines those caught picking flowers. The hefty fines range between $50 and $500 per rose.
An emerging student tradition is to have a photo taken in their cap and gown in the Rose Garden!
The Little Rock
Located between The District and McLemore Hall, the Little Rock plays an important role during football season. Every Tuesday at 2 p.m., the rock is given a fresh coat of paint by The Legacy, the student alumni association, and bears a spirited phrase about that week’s opponent.