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Hallmarks & Traditions
From the Spirit Week events which lead up to "The Rivalry," to the celebrations of our foundations and the opportunities of the future, or whether we're singing the Alma Mater or our Fight Song, there are many ways we celebrate being part of Lehigh.
“Rearing Tearing” was written by E.S. "Bill" Colling (1912), who edited the first Lehigh songbook and was instrumental in having new Lehigh songs played at banquets, “smokers” and rallies during the early 1900s.
Watch members of Lehigh University's Marching 97 and students perform "Rearing Tearing" in preparation for the 150th Rivalry football game against Lafayette College!
The lyrics to Lehigh's Alma Mater were written by John J. Gibson (1895) while serving as the editor-in-chief of the Lehigh Burr (the student magazine at the time) in 1894. It is sung to the tune of “Annie Lisle”, which is also used for Cornell University’s Alma Mater.
Listen to the Lehigh University Glee Club sing Lehigh's Alma Mater here.
Seal and Motto
"Homo Minister et Interpres Naturae," which translates loosely to "Man, the servant and interpreter of nature," taken from the works of Francis Bacon, was used to summarize the principle of combining scientific and classical education, both of which the Lehigh trustees considered to be practical.
The Mountain Hawks
Lehigh's first official mascot, the “Mountain Hawk,” debuted in 1995. Prior to that, Lehigh athletic teams were known as the “Engineers.” While many believe the Engineers referred to Lehigh's strong engineering program, it in fact reflected the university's early ties to the railroad industry as Lehigh's founder, Asa Packer, built the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company in eastern Pennsylvania. To preserve Lehigh history, the university still refers to athletic teams prior to 1995 as the "Engineers" or even the "Brown and Whites." While there is no species of bird known as the "mountain hawk," it is not uncommon to spot hawks sailing over Lehigh's home on South Mountain. And our fine feathered fan, Clutch, can always be spotted cheering his fellow Mountain Hawks to victory.
Brown & White
Lehigh students have been proud of the “Brown & White” since 1867 — two years after the school's founding. When the school was founded, individual classes had their own unique colors. Soon the university realized it needed colors that could unify the entire student body. The explanation behind choosing brown and white has gone missing from the official history books. But Lehigh folklore offers up one suggestion: A woman wearing fashionable brown and white stockings crossed the path of a group of men discussing school colors and, as they say, the rest is history.
In 2007, Lehigh launched a tradition that brings alumni back to campus to celebrate the graduation of a new class of alumni. Reunion weekend takes place during the same time as Commencement, creating a campus-wide, weekend-long celebration of Lehigh's past and future. Members of the 50-year alumni class return to witness the graduation of the class they adopted four years earlier at the Rally. Many returning classes participate in events like the Parade of Classes, luncheons and an ice cream social.
One of the oldest traditions of Spirit Week is the annual Turkey Trot, a 2.6-mile running race and fun walk through campus to the top of “The Hill” and back to the U.C. lawn.
In 2007, members of the Class of 2010 revived an old Lehigh tradition: Bed Races. As part of the annual Spirit Week, students form teams, decorate beds and drag race them down the length of Memorial Walk. In the early days of bed racing, students constructed their beds from scratch in an effort to demonstrate their engineering prowess. In 2014 the beds were redesigned by students at the Baker Institute and Wilbur Powerhouse, specifically to be safer than the ones used in the past.
Watch a recent video of Lehigh's Annual Bed Races here.
Marching 97 Campus Tour
The week before the Lehigh-Lafayette football game is one of the most exciting times on South Mountain. One of the highlights of Spirit Week is when members of Lehigh's Marching 97 marching band weave their way through campus buildings, dining halls, classrooms and even the library, serenading the campus community with all the traditional Lehigh fight songs. The march is called "Eco-flame" because in the '70s Professor Rich Aaronson asked the band to play for his ECO 001 class.
View a recent video of Lehigh's Marching 97 marching band here.
Each entering class is represented by an official class flag, which features the class's graduation year and colors. The flag is presented to the class at The Rally, held each fall as the first official gathering of an incoming class. A class will have the same colors and flag design as their “adopting class” – the class that is 50 years their senior. The tradition began in 1945, when the Class of 1899 adopted the Class of 1949. Alumni representatives return to campus to carry their class flags at The Rally. When the flags aren't in use, they decorate the hallways of the Alumni Memorial Building, with the four current undergraduate classes' flags displayed in the atrium. The oldest surviving original class flag is from the Class of '89 – 1889.
Founder's Day has been a Lehigh tradition since it was first celebrated on October 9, 1879, following the death of Asa Packer in May. The annual October event celebrates Asa Packer's legacy and honors the current leaders of the Lehigh community. The day is often used to dedicate buildings, install faculty and recognize achievements. Early Founder's Day festivities even pitted the first-year and sophomore classes against one another in events such as football, track, tug-o-war and rope tying. More recently, students have gathered for a rally event after the ceremony in Asa Packer Memorial Church.
Lehigh fans have two favorite athletic teams: Lehigh and whoever is playing Lafayette. The Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry is one of the longest-standing and most storied rivalries in college athletics — and for good reason. The two schools, located less than 20 miles apart, have faced one another since 1884.
In fact, the Lehigh-Lafayette football game is the most-played college football rivalry in the nation. The two teams took to the gridiron in 1884, a mere one year after standardized football rules were established. The teams have met every year since 1897. The much-anticipated game draws sell-out crowds and national media attention, alternating home field advantage between Lehigh's Goodman Stadium and Lafayette's Fisher Field in Easton, Pa. In November of 2014, the Rivalry met, for the 150th time, on neutral turf in New York’s Yankee Stadium and played in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 50,000 fans.
Lehigh meets Lafayette on the playing field in most sports, either during the regular season or at the Patriot League Championship.