Rice Traditions

Rice Academic Seal and Logo  

The academic seal of Rice University was designed in 1912 by Pierre de Chaignon la Rose of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who combined the main elements of the arms of 16 prominent families bearing the names “Rice” or “Houston.” Owls of Athena-symbolic of wisdom-were chosen for the charges. The Athenian owls on the Rice seal were patterned after a design found on a small, silver tetradrachmenon coin dating from the middle of the fifth century B.C. And because Rice University was dedicated by its founder to the advancement of “letters, science and art,” these words also were incorporated into the seal.

Rice Colors: Blue and Gray

In 1912, Rice’s first president, Edgar Odell Lovett, chose as the school colors “a blue still deeper than the Oxford blue” and “the Confederate gray, enlivened by a tinge of lavender.” It has been suggested that blue and gray were chosen in recognition of the fact that Rice's founder amassed much of the fortune that formed the initial endowment of the Rice Institute by trading with both the North and the South during the Civil War.

Rice Mascot: Owl

When athletic activities began at the Rice Institute in 1912, the teams adopted as their mascot the owl from the Rice seal. Over the years, Rice’s various mascots have included students dressed in owl costumes, live Great Horned Owls, and large owl statues of fiberglass and of canvas, the latter being particularly famous in Rice lore (see below).

Mascot Name: “Sammy”

An early symbol of Rice’s athletic teams was large canvas owl, a tempting target for the institute’s rivals. In 1917, when students from Southwest Conference football rival Texas A&M kidnapped the owl, Rice students pooled their resources and hired a private detective to go to College Station to find the missing mascot. When the detective, having recovered the owl, sent a coded telegram to Houston that read “Sammy is fairly well and would like to see his parents at eleven o’clock,” the Rice mascot had a name.

Alma Mater: Rice’s Honor

All for Rice’s Honor, we will fight on.
We will be fighting when this day is done.
And when the dawn comes breaking,
We'll be fighting on, Rice, for the Gray and Blue.
We will be loyal, to Rice be true.

(To the tune of “Our Director March,” written by Ben H. Mitchell ’24 in 1922)

Rice Fight Song

Fight for Rice, Rice fight on, loyal sons arise.
The Blue and Gray for Rice today, comes breaking through skies.
Fight, fight, fight! Stand and cheer, Vict’ry's near, Sammy leads the way.
Onward go! to crush the foe, we’ll fight for Blue and Gray.
(Words and music by Louis Gerard ’40)


The MOB — Rice University’s Marching Owl Band

Rice Fact and Fiction

What's Your Rice Historical IQ? Test your knowledge about Rice history by taking this short true-or-false quiz. Then compare your knowledge with that of the wizard of Rice history, Professor John Boles, with the John Boles Rice History Meter.