History and Traditions

Alma Mater

Charles M. Curry, Professor of English and Literature authored The Alma Mater. It was originally entitled, "Indiana's Normal" and first printed in a June 1912 issue of the Normal Advance. audio-x-generic.png almamater.mp3

Blue and White

In 1899, it was announced that Yale Blue and White would replace the colors of Salmon Pink and White. The colors are also applied to the Blue and White Parade and the Blue and White Dance held during Homecoming each fall.

Book and Torch





The book and torch are official symbols of the University and are featured in its seal. The book symbolizes knowledge and truth gained here and the torch symbolizes the light of inspiration that comes to students in these halls.

Book and Torch Ceremony

This traditional ceremony marks the commitment of the senior class to become active alumni of Indiana State. Historically, each senior class was charged with adding to the Parsons-Sandison Living Memorial Fund, a scholarship fund for Indiana State students. This tradition encompasses two ceremonies, the first of which is on Founder's Day (generally in January), at which time the president of the Alumni Board charges the senior class to make a commitment to the University. At commencement, another ceremony is conducted. As part of this ceremony, the senior class answers the challenge of commitment, as they become alumni of the University.


Indiana State University-Evansville (now University of Southern Indiana) -- Indiana State University-Evansville was created as a branch campus in 1965. Like Ball State University, it became an independent institution of higher education when it was granted independent standing as the University of Southern Indiana in 1985.

Donaghy Day

Donaghy Day

Named after Fred Donaghy, graduate of the Normal School (1912) and a professor of life sciences, this campus tradition was initiated in 1976 as a day set aside for the community to celebrate the season and to work to help beautify the campus and surrounding community.

Eastern Division

The Eastern Division was created in 1918 in the building of the old Muncie Institute in Muncie, Indiana. The Eastern division became Ball State Teachers College in 1929 when Indiana State Normal became Indiana State Teachers College. The Indiana State Teachers College Board of Trustees governed both colleges until 1961.

Fight Song

March On (You Fighting Sycamores), the University's fight song, was authored and arranged by Joseph A. Gremelspacher, an ISU professor of music, as a pep song. It was first performed at a homecoming-eve pep rally on Oct. 20, 1939.
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Founders Day

January 6 (although it is not always observed on this date) commemorates the opening of the institution in 1870 when 23 students presented themselves to a faculty of three on the first day of classes at the Indiana State Normal School.


Homecoming Parade The term Homecoming was first used in print announcements for the Alumni-Varsity Basketball Game on Dec. 9, 1916. By the year 1919, this event became known as Blue and White Day and featured dances and entertainment for alumni of the Normal School. In 1921 the events were organized around a football game scheduled earlier in the autumn. A bonfire and pep rally were added to the festivities in 1922; the Blue-and-White Parade in 1923; and in 1937, Bette Whitmore (Kappa Kappa) was elected ISUs first Homecoming Queen.


Sycamore Sam In 1969, a committee created the Chief Quabachi concept as a mascot for the school. This Indian Chief (and accompanying legend) was used as a mascot until 1989. In 1995, the university welcomed Sycamore Sam to the ISU family. The blue-and-white creature is a favorite among young and old alike.

  • Indiana State Normal School (1865-1929)
  • Indiana State Teachers College (1929-1961)
  • Indiana State College (1961-1965)
  • Indiana State University (1965 to the present)
Presidents of the University
William Albert Jones William Albert Jones
George Pliny Brown George Pliny Brown
William Wood Parsons William Wood Parsons
Linnaeus Neal Hines Linnaeus Neal Hines
Ralph Noble Tirey Ralph Noble Tirey
Raleigh Warren Holmstedt Raleigh Warren Holmstedt
Alan Carson Rankin Alan Carson Rankin
Richard George Landini Richard George Landini
John William Moore

John William Moore

Lloyd W. Benjamin III Lloyd W. Benjamin III
Daniel J. Bradley Daniel J. Bradley
2008- 2017
PresidentCurtis Deborah J. Curtis
Spring Week

This spirit week is annually held in April and consists of a variety of student activities in celebration of spring, including the Tandem race (see below), Battleship, Spring Sing, service learning opportunities and more.

Student Media

Student Media was created in 2012 in a merger of Student Publications and electronic media outlets under Academic Affairs. Since then, in addition to operating the Indiana Statesman, Sycamore Video, and WISU-FM; Student Media has grown to include The Sycamore, a digital yearbook; Syc Creations, a client-driven video and web production group; the Indiana State Sports Network, which produces video for ESPN3; WZIS, a student-staffed station created when WISU converted to a public radio format; and the Center for Innovation in Technology and Digital Media. While the center is our newest venture, Student Media outlets have been a part of the Indiana State experience for decades. The Statesman dates back to 1895 and WISU first went on the air in the early 1960s. The Sycamore, long an institution at Indiana State, was suspended in 1993 and revived in 2013-14.


In 1921 a contest was held to pick a name for the athletic teams at what was then called the Indiana State Normal School. Until this time, the term "Fighting Teachers" was frequently used in press accounts of athletic contests. In January 1922, it was announced that the name Sycamores had won a popular vote of the student body. Indiana State University has used this team name ever since.


Tandem Race This student-organized race was first run as part of Spring Week activities in 1970. Teams are comprised of coed mixed pairs, which compete on tandem bicycles.


Trike Race The Indiana State Tricycle Derby was first run in 1963 as a 10-lap race around the sidewalks of the Quadrangle on children's tricycles. The races featured a men's and women's division (the Powder Puff Derby). The races now feature men's and women's teams racing on specially built tricycles at the new Recreation East complex at Ninth and Sycamore streets.

University Seal

ISU Seal The current seal includes the symbols of the book and torch and the founding date of 1865. It was approved for use by the board of Trustees in 1929, the year that the Normal School became Indiana State Teachers College.