traditions
TRADITIONS

Our Traditions

From a lovable feline to an all-campus fiesta, the University of Houston builds community and generates fun with a variety of time-honored traditions. Most individual colleges have their own traditions, too, ranging from Wolffest, a college of business tradition where students run pop-up food stands in a three-day competition, to the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ annual Elizabeth D. Rockwell Lecture on Ethics and Leadership.

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Blessing of the Rings

Before the Ring Ceremony, each class ring spends the night with UH’s live cougar mascot, Shasta VII, at the Houston Zoo. In this bi-annual ceremony, Shasta blesses the rings. Then students and alumni receive their class ring at the Ring Ceremony, which is held at the end of each fall and spring semester.

Frontier Fiesta

Dating back to 1939, this springtime action-packed festival features free live concerts, variety shows by student organizations, carnival booths, multicultural performances and a world-class BBQ cook-off. This student-run event was dubbed “The Greatest College Show on Earth” by LIFE magazine in 1958.

cougar sign red outline with white

Cougar Sign

At game time, Cougar fans show their support by making the “Cougar sign,” made by folding the ring finger and thumb of the right hand toward the palm. The tradition dates back to 1953, when Shasta I, the presiding cougar mascot, lost a toe in a cage door on the way to a game. The opposing team, the University of Texas, mocked UH by imitating the cougar’s injury. The Cougars soon adopted that gesture as a symbol of pride.

Important Note: The Cougar Hand Sign is made with the right hand.

Cougar Red Friday

Every Friday is declared Cougar Red Friday, and we wear red to show our pride and passion for the University. Wearing red on Friday is more than just a tradition; it is who we are. It is our visual identity. The color unites us to live and to celebrate together and behold our individual achievements as a singular legacy of pride. We encourage our campus community and those all around the city to wear Red on Fridays.

Cougar Red Fridays
rubbing-the-paw

Rubbing the Paw

Every Friday is declared Cougar Red Friday, and we wear red to show our pride and passion for the University. Wearing red on Friday is more than just a tradition; it is who we are. It is our visual identity. The color unites us to live and to celebrate together and behold our individual achievements as a singular legacy of pride. We encourage our campus community and those all around the city to wear Red on Fridays.

Whose House? Coogs House!

Started in the late 1980s, the famous UH chant, “Whose House? Coogs House!” can be heard loud and proud at Cougar sporting events. The famous mantra was started by former Houston cheerleader Paul Pettit during the 1988 football season because Cougars would go into the competing teams’ stadium and win. The chant energized the fans and has remained a staple cheer.

UH Students Holding Coogs House Sign

The Alma Mater

The official University of Houston Alma Mater was the culmination of an assignment by Bruce Spencer King, associate professor of music. He assigned his harmony class the task of composing a song that was suitable to become the University’s Alma Mater. The 18-year-old Irwin T. Andrews wrote a violin melody, which was then expanded by Professor King into a four-part harmony. The entire class hammered out the lyrics while King arranged the chorus. After an interminable amount of finagling, the song was sung at the 1942 commencement. It has been part of University of Houston lore from that day on.

The Alma Mater

All hail to thee,
Our Houston University.
Our hearts fill with gladness
When we think of thee.
We’ll always adore thee
Dear old varsity.
And to thy memory cherished,
True we’ll ever be.

The Cougar Fight Song

The most popular version is by former students Forest Fountain (lyrics) and Marion Ford (music). It is the Cougar Fight Song currently played by the band at all contests and events. A local musician, Ed Gerlach, and his orchestra popularized the current version of the Cougar Fight Song in the 1950s.

However, the school also had another Cougar Fight Song composed by John Perry (a UH accounting student who contracted polio during his collegiate days). This, the original Cougar Fight Song, was introduced during what is considered the first “big-time” football game for the University of Houston: a 1949 contest with then-national powerhouse College of William & Mary.

Likewise, legendary band director William C. Moffit also contributed songs which have become de facto UH Fight Songs: “Eat ‘Em Up” and “Touchdown.”

The Cougar Fight Song

Cougars fight for dear old U of H
For our Alma Mater cheer.
Fight for Houston University
For victory is near.
When the going gets so rough and tough
We never worry cause we got the stuff.
So fight, fight, fight for red and white
And we will go to victory.