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Spirit & 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.

Each of the milestones throughout the year is marked with its own special festivities. From the hectic bustle of Move-in Day and your first introduction to your fellow classmates during Mustang Corral, to the excitement of Boulevarding on game day, 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 Texas sun in the Dallas sky.

From your first Family Weekend to your fiftieth Homecoming game, you're always a part of the Mustang family.

Why 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-lines, 237-acre campus in the heart of one of the nation's economic and culture powerhouses.

Hail to the Red and Blue...

...we're the Mustangs of SMU!  They're not just the words of our fight song, the Pony Battle Cry, but also the colors to which we remain loyal and true. If you want to get technical, they're known as PMS 186 and 286, but we just call them SMU Red and SMU Blue. Today's colors are actually variations on those chosen by SMU's first president, Robert S. Hyer: Harvard Crimson and Yale Blue.

Veritas Liberabit Vos

The SMU motto, Veritas Liberabit Vos, translated from Latin means "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.

A Mascot with a Kick

SMU's mascot is a lively black stallion Shetland pony, named Peruna after a lively Prohibition-era tonic that was said to pack quite a "kick." Since 1932, the SMU Mustangs have been proudly represented by the spirited, feisty Peruna I (the original) through the current Peruna IX. When not appearing at Mustang events, Peruna runs free in a super top-secret location, even unknown to his loyal, energetic Peruna Handlers.

The SMU 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.