Spirit and Traditions

A legacy of spirit, tradition and pride

The way we welcome new Mustangs, the way we celebrate our most important times of the year and the way we let loose and have a blast – it's all part of what's so great about SMU. We're big on tradition and spirit here on the Hilltop, and we take a lot of pride in our community and the rich, century-long history the University has built.Crowd of people walking on the quad

Each of the milestones throughout the year is marked with its own special festivities. From the hectic bustle of Move In Day to the excitement of game day to the joy of Celebration of Lights to the hopefulness of Commencement, the Hilltop's legacy of spirit, tradition and pride shines as bright as the sun in the Dallas sky.

From your first Family Weekend to your fiftieth Homecoming game, you'll never stop being a Mustang.

The SMU motto is veritas liberabit vos, or, 'The truth will make you free.' Chosen by SMU's first president, it was adopted in 1912 and has been featured in several prominent locations across campus and incorporated into traditional symbols, such as the official SMU seal, which is cast into the rotunda floor of SMU's first building, Dallas Hall.

Alma Mater
Written by an SMU theology student in 1916 and set to words by SMU's first band director in 1929, Varsity has been proudly sung at University events from opening convocation to commencement to sporting events ever since. Click here to listen.

School Colors
SMU's official school colors are red and blue.

Live Mascot
SMU’s live mascot is Peruna IX a miniature Shetland pony, named after an early 20th-century medicine, Peruna Tonic, which was said to have a 'kick.' Mustang fans show school pride with 'pony ears' during school songs, chants, and cheers. Learn about the history of the nine Perunas here.

The Boulevard
Each fall before home football games, students, faculty, alumni, and staff gather on The Boulevard for pregame picnics and festivities.

The Hilltop
Dallas may be pretty flat compared to plenty of other areas in the country, but more than a century ago, when our founders set out to find the place to lay the cornerstone of Dallas Hall, they chose the highest point on campus, from where you could look out upon our beautiful city, toward downtown and the prosperous future that was to come. From there, the nickname of the "the Hilltop" was born, and it's the name by which we still refer to our tree-lined, 234-acre campus in the heart of one of the nation's economic and cultural powerhouses.


PerunaPalooza | The university's springtime festival celebrating Peruna's birthday. Students enjoy games, rides, and activities while helping themselves to a variety of carnival-inspired free food.


Celebration of Lights | The entire SMU and surrounding communities gather for this joyous occasion to watch the famous Dallas Hall be lit with thousands of lights. The program begins with hot cocoa and cider accompanied by warm cookies. Guests proceed to gather on the Dallas Hall Lawn and listen to carols performed by SMU students. Next, SMU’s President, R. Gerald Turner, reads the Christmas Story. Upon the conclusion of the Christmas Story, the singing of Silent Night and the lighting of SMU’s stunning Dallas Hall and its surrounding trees conclude the program.

Tate Lecture Series | For years, the lecture series has brought some of the most influential politicians, philanthropists, and successful world-changers to campus to encourage and provoke our future world-changers.