USC History

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University Seal

The university’s seal displays three torches, representing the arts, the sciences, and philosophy. In heraldic language, the torch is a symbol of learning. In the background is the setting sun, representing the West and (in heraldic symbolism) power and life. Embracing the torches and sun is a California poppy, the USC flower and heraldic symbol of growth. Completing the seal is the school motto.


Palmam qui meruit ferat. (Let whoever earns the palm bear it.)


Cardinal and Gold. Before 1895, USC’s official color was gold. At that time the College of Liberal Arts had its own color—cardinal. In 1895, both colors were adopted as USC’s official colors.

University Alma Mater

“All Hail” was written by Al Wessen for the finale of a student show, “Campus Frolics of 1923.”

“All Hail to Alma Mater
To thy glory we sing;
All Hail to Southern California
Loud let thy praises ring;
Where Western sky meets Western sea
Our college stands in majesty;
Sing our love to Alma Mater,
Hail, all hail to thee!”

Listen to the SoCal VoCals’ rendition of All Hail.


USC students have been known as Trojans for more than 80 years. The “Trojan” tradition originated from a 1912 Los Angeles Times article by sports writer Owen Bird, who likened the fighting spirit of USC athletes to the ancient Trojans.

Trojan Shrine

Now a campus landmark fondly nicknamed “Tommy Trojan,” this life-size bronze statue of a Trojan warrior was unveiled on June 6, 1930, as part of USC’s 50th birthday celebration. Sculpted by Roger Noble Burnham, Tommy Trojan was modeled after different USC football players. On the bronze statue’s granite pedestal are inscribed the qualities of the ideal Trojan: “faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, and ambitious.”

Official Fight Song

In 1922 USC dental student Milo Sweet composed the music for USC’s official fight song, “Fight On,” as an entry in a Trojan Spirit contest.

“Fight On for ‘ol SC
Our men Fight On to victory.
Our Alma Mater dear, looks up to you
Fight On and win For ‘ol SC
Fight On to victory Fight On!”

Listen to the Trojan Marching Band’s rendition of Fight On!

Tribute to Troy is the other popular USC fight song, here also played by the USC Trojan Marching Band.
Tribute to Troy.


USC football games are famous for, among other things, the appearance of Traveler, a noble white steed bearing a “Trojan warrior” into the arena. The Traveler tradition began in 1961 with Traveler I. From 1961 to 1988, USC’s equestrian mascots were selected, trained, and ridden by Richard Saukko. After his death, the Saukko family has continued the tradition of raising the famous Trojan horses. The current mascots are Traveler V and Traveler VI.
Trojan Marching Band

The history of the “Spirit of Troy,” the USC marching band, goes back to the inception of the university in 1880. The contemporary Trojan band began in 1970 with the arrival of Dr. Arthur C. Bartner and his unique “drive-it” style of marching. The band has performed at the Academy Awards, the Hollywood Bowl, the Rose Parade, and in numerous film and television productions. In 1979, the Trojan Marching Band recorded the title track for the album “Tusk” with the rock group Fleetwood Mac, which resulted in a platinum album for that song; no other collegiate marching band has ever been so honored.