Every university has its own unique set of traditions and legacies that students will remember when they graduate, but those memories can be different for everyone — a unique combination of the friends, student groups and programs each student associated with that is authentic to their particular experience. This is certainly the case at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) where students who march in the Pride of the Rockies might remember their time on campus differently compared to a student pursuing their doctorate.
Many faculty and staff attended UNC, but they all give differing insight into the university. For instance, Tobias Guzmán, '95, vice president for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, notes how there are even traditions today that he didn’t experience himself as a student.
“We definitely have the tradition now of not stepping on the center court in Gunter Hall,” noted Guzmán. “Students don’t do that, especially during finals, they feel that that's bad luck. That wasn’t the case when I was a student, but that’s mostly because that was the gym.”
Nor was Guzmán rubbing the bronze bust in Ross Hall for good luck, a tradition that was established in more recent years, but he remembers how the Pride of the Rockies marching band would lead students to the opening barbeques at the start of the year. That’s one tradition that hasn’t changed as Daniel Farr, associate director of bands, still has his students lead the start-of-the-year celebrations. Another tradition that Farr is especially proud of continuing is the reputation of the music program which has historically been known for its professionalism and renowned for its performance and music education.
“The Pride of the Rockies marching band has always been an organization dedicated to inclusivity, community and entertainment,” said Farr. “I am honored to continue the traditions passed down by the incomparable Dick Mayne.”
A tradition which continues to this day is the overall atmosphere of friendliness on campus.
“One of the things I commonly hear about is that we have a campus where people look up and talk to you,” explained Guzmán. “I always refer to that as being a relational campus. I have been on three other campuses, and I have not witnessed that.”
Similarly, Chris Cobb, ’03, M.A. ’09, Ph.D. ’14, executive director of Student Engagement, has noticed in his 20 years on campus that the university has made putting students first another sort of tradition. As a student, Cobb felt how community-oriented the campus was and it’s part of why he’s stayed here, both as a student and staff, for as long as he has.
“It felt like I was seen in a way where I wasn't getting lost among thousands and thousands of students,” said Cobb. “I felt like this was an environment where [faculty] knew who I was, and they were invested in my success.”
The warmth of the faculty and knowing that both faculty and staff put students first, was a driving factor in why Cobb came back to UNC when pursuing all three of his degrees.
For others, the traditions that resonate with them are the ones which punctuate the beginning and the completion of a student’s time on campus.
“I love the campus tradition of taking a photo at bronze statue Northern Vision, first when you visit as a prospective student on the campus tour, then follow-up with a photo in your graduation regalia prior to commencement,” said Lyndsey Crum, ’05, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations. “It reflects the accomplishment and journey that we aspire every student take and complete.”
The beginning of a student’s college experience and the end both mark important milestones in their lives, but it’s the memories, traditions and interactions in between that make all the hard work worthwhile.
There are countless other traditions which have permeated campus over the years, and the university is beginning to collect as many alumni memories and favorite traditions as possible through the new Alumni Oral History Project. In partnership with production company PCI, UNC will reach out to all alumni over the coming weeks, to invite the community to share and record their fondest memories and traditions from their time as a UNC student. By this time next year, there will be a compilation of alumni stories showcasing the broad range of memories on campus.