The third line from the first stanza of the College of Charleston's alma mater proclaims, "Proud tradition hover ‘round thee." It is a fitting lyric because this unique institution is distinguished in part by a strong sense of tradition. Some of the more prominent traditions maintained at the College are detailed here:
Unlike at other colleges and universities, students completing their undergraduate degrees at the College of Charleston do not wear robes or caps for the spring commencement ceremony. Instead, women students wear white dresses and men wear white dinner jackets each spring at graduation. For decades, this annual tradition has taken place in the Cistern yard, where ancient live oak trees draped with Spanish moss set the stage and the College's oldest building, Randolph Hall, provides a fitting backdrop. December graduates participate in an indoor ceremony, and the dress code is black tuxedos for men and black dresses for women.
Convocation is an annual celebration at which students and faculty gather to celebrate the official opening of the scholastic year. Originally, “convocation” denoted a gathering of the clergy or the divisions of a diocese; however, today, the word and the event have evolved from their ecclesiastical roots to embrace the intellectual community as well. The College’s convocation welcomes new students to the liberal arts and sciences community and encourages them to consider their own intellectual journey. This occasion also serves to familiarize incoming students with the College’s academic traditions as well as the institution’s history, symbols and mottos.
Rites of Passage
Students at the College of Charleston pass through the arch at Porter's Lodge on their first day and enter the Cistern yard to officially sign "the book." Inscribed in Greek on the arch are the words "Know Thyself." Upon graduation in the spring, students exit the Cistern yard by passing underneath the same arch and out into the world.
Seniors are contacted each year regarding the Ring Ceremony. They traditionally buy an official College of Charleston ring from the Alumni Association, and are honored at the annual ring ceremony. Each ring is engraved with the initials, type of degree and class year of the graduate.
College of Charleston Alma Mater
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater.
Hail to thy time-honored name.
Proud tradition hover 'round thee;
May we never bring thee shame.
Loyal sons and daughters love thee;
Strive to conquer and prevail.
We will sing thy praises ever -
College of Charleston, hail, all hail.
The seal of the College of Charleston is derived from the City of Charleston's seal, which was adopted in 1783. The College's seal was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1843 and features the Latin phrases meaning, "Knowledge Itself Is Liberty" and "She Cares for Her Temples, Customs and Rights." The woman seated holding the scepter is described as a personification of Charleston herself, and evokes an image of the city deriving its livelihood from the sea and prepared to defend itself. She is shown presenting a laurel wreath to a young man holding a diploma in front of a classroom building.
Colors and Mascot
The official College of Charleston colors are maroon and white, and black is used as an alternate color. The cougar is our mascot, and Clyde the Cougar can be seen at basketball games and other athletic events.