Traditions & occasions

Since 1892, campus ceremonies and traditions have reminded us all of the history and fate shared by generation after generation of students. As the University Song written by Laura Weil Cone, Class of 1910, says, we are part of an “unbroken band.”

photo of Dr. Nancy Vacc with the Vacc Bell Tower in the background

Love the luminaires

Dr. Nancy Vacc ’85 EdD was a doctoral student and then a faculty member. “No matter what role I was in at UNCG, fall semester Reading Day with the luminaires on College Avenue was always my favorite. Standing on the steps of Curry and looking down the ‘lit’ avenue always warmed my heart and made me smile.” In recent years, not only are the luminaires lit, a tradition begun on campus in 1969, but the Vacc Bell Tower is as well. The community gathers to drink cocoa, sing songs and hear one of the state’s full carillon of bells.

photo of the Elliot University Center with luminaires lighting the walkways

University Bell sports fresh look

Students heard the clang, clang, clang of the university bell on the very first day of classes Oct. 5, 1892. When a fire began in Brick Dormitory in 1904, one brave student ran out into the snow, climbed the bell stand, and rang this bell with her hands, alerting her classmates. Everyone was safe. When wars ended, it rang. At Commencement, it rang. Time for students to assemble? It rang. For decades it hung in Anniversary Plaza, where the Vacc Bell Tower now stands. Its clapper was silenced, lest Curry School kids ring it – or so the story goes. This past summer, it got a much-needed spruce-up. As first-year students arrived for NAV1GATE, UNCG’s new convocation, the bell was a uniquely wonderful sight. The bell now sits 48 inches high (to spare its ringers from bending over) on a gleaming walnut wood platform. A 12-inch, bronze academic seal is stamped on either side of the base. Dr. Kim Sousa-Peoples, director of New Student Transitions and First Year Experience, enlisted the help of Fred Patrick, former director of Facilities Design and Construction. The two tapped noted sculptor Jim Gallucci, a former instructor in the art department, for the base design and alumnus Eric Little ’99 MFA, a former UNCG carpenter, for the woodwork. “This new frame respects the history of the bell,” said Sousa-Peoples. “And gives it the prominence it deserves.”

photo of the newly refurbished University Bell at August’s NAV1GATE convocation with Chancellor Gilliam delivering a speech

Newly refurbished bell at August’s NAV1GATE convocation

vintage photo of the University Bell, showing several students in frontclose up photo of the newly refurbished University Bell

Did You Know?

From 1904 to 1954, May Day events – sometimes lasting multiple days – drew large crowds to campus.

vintage photo of May Day

Vintage photo of May Day event

photo of a class ring from University Archives, circa 1937

CLASS RING In 1935, the class rings were standardized, with the seal set in black onyx. This ring in University Archives is circa 1937.

photo of the clock tower with the

CLOCKTOWER Since 1991, students have walked around it. Legend has it that those who walk under it won’t graduate on time.

photo of two students painting the

THE RAWK (aka The Rock) Since 1973, when Alpha Phi Omega donated it as the university’s “message board,” students have used it to promote their causes – 24 hours at a time.