Winthrop Traditions

Traditions often take the form of rituals or events, but in their essence, traditions are stories and experiences that connect a large group of people across generations. We all become a part of a community through the stories and experiences that unite us, regardless of race, gender, or creed.

The Garnet & Gold Book

Garnet and Gold BookWinthrop has a long history of traditions, and this book, The Garnet & Gold, presents you with the opportunity to learn about Winthrop's history and help shape its future. A student committee composed of members of the Student Alumni Council and Winthrop Ambassadors created The Garnet & Gold as a comprehensive guide to the history and traditions of Winthrop for the entering freshman class, the campus community, and alumni. View the 2023 Edition (pdf - 8.1 MB)


Alumni Traditions

Alumni from the class of 1973 singing the alma mater at their homecoming reunion luncheon

    The Annual Tree Lighting has been a beloved tradition since 1935. The Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council host the Annual Tree Lighting to kick off the holiday season.

    The Division of University Advancement established Giving Day - Bleed Garnet, Give Gold in 2019, a 24-hour day of philanthropy for Winthrop alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends to invest in the future of Winthrop by making a gift of any size! 

    In the fall of 2005, the Student Alumni Council established Ghost Tours, an event that explores the campus legends and historical figures that have shaped Winthrop. Ghost Tours are led from the basement of Tillman Hall to the 4th floor. All proceeds from this event support the Winthrop Fund.

    The Division of Student Life established Homecoming in 1978. Over the years, Homecoming has included a variety of activities: alumni events, athletic games, tailgating, float competitions, themed parties, student talent shows and special performances. Since 2011, Homecoming and Alumni Reunion have been a combined event. During the weekend the Alumni Association recognizes reunion classes, honors Alumni Award recipients and celebrate Winthrop faculty and staff who are alumni. All alumni are invited to campus to celebrate.

    With the adoption of a new Winthrop ring design in 2003, the university began honoring ring recipients with a ceremony and reception. The Alumni Association president and Student Alumni Council Traditions Chair present rings to recipients. Family and friends of ring recipients are invited to attend and celebrate this milestone moment.

Winthrop Traditions

Four students wearing their blue line shirts

    In 1914, President Johnson pro- posed a competition among the  four classes to prepare a college song. Over the years, the alma mater was adapted to suit the changing character of Winthrop, but the tradition of an official college song continues. At opening convocation in 1986, the Winthrop Glee Club performed the current alma mater, which was adopted to usher in Winthrop’s second century.

    The Blue Line is among Winthrop’s most cherished traditions. Originally, Winthrop students, who were all female, were led in two lines down Oakland Avenue, where they could attend any one of the many churches along the street. The procession of students dressed in blue and white uniforms was led by the president on the first Sunday of the academic year and eventually became known as the “Blue Line.” 

    When the uniform policy ended in 1955, the tradition lost its identity, but in 1983 President Lader revived the Blue Line. Since that time, Winthrop’s president now leads students out of Convocation to the lawn where students can enjoy food, novelties and vendor tables. Students pay homage to the original Blue Line by wearing Blue Line T-shirts.

    The first Commencement ceremony took place on June 17, 1887 in Columbia, S.C., the original home of Winthrop, and awarded degrees to 14 students. While the program has changed over time, all Winthrop graduates share the experience and tradition of our Commencement exercises. Today, ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students are held each semester at the Winthrop Coliseum.

    Convocation was created in 1895 by Winthrop founder and first president, David Bancroft Johnson. Originally held on the first Sunday of each new school year, Convocation provided a welcoming addressand words encourgement for the semester. Today, President Serna '02 convenes the freshman class to offer them an official welcome to Winthrop from university and student leadership.

    Family Day, a tradition begun by President Phelps in 1936, was renewed in 2007 to become a funfilled, engaging and educational time for students and their families.

    Winthrop Day is all about celebrating our Admitted Eagles! All admitted students can attend this celebration and learn more about life at Winthrop. At this event, students and families have the opportunity to connect with current students, faculty and staff.