Founded in 1770, the College of Charleston has had plenty of years to hone its traditions. From Commencement held under the towering live oak trees to our beloved mascot Clyde the Cougar, these are the rites and rituals that make the College unique.

College of Charleston Traditions

Some of the more prominent traditions maintained at the College are detailed here.
  • Graduation

    At the College of Charleston, spring graduates completing their undergraduate degrees do not don robes or caps — instead, they wear white dresses or white dinner jackets. For decades, this annual tradition has taken place in the picturesque Cistern Yard, adorned with ancient live oak trees and Spanish moss. December graduates attend an indoor ceremony and follow a dress code of black tuxedos for men and black dresses for women.

  • Convocation

    Convocation is an annual gathering where students and faculty come together to celebrate the start of the academic year. Originally associated with religious assemblies, “convocation” has evolved to embrace the intellectual community. The College's convocation welcomes new students to the liberal arts and sciences community, encouraging them to embark on their own intellectual journey. It also introduces them to the institution's academic traditions, history, symbols and mottos.

  • Rites of Passage

    Students at the College of Charleston pass through the arch at Porter's Lodge on their first day and enter the Cistern Yard to officially sign "the book." Inscribed in Greek on the arch are the words "Know Thyself." Upon graduation in the spring, students exit the Cistern Yard by passing underneath the same arch and out into the world.

  • Ring Ceremony

    Students with a minimum of 30 completed hours at the College of Charleston can buy the school ring. The Ring Ceremony takes place during Family Weekend, and all ring purchasers are invited. Detailed information on ring orders is available on the CofC Alumni website.

  • College of Charleston Alma Mater

    Hail to thee, our Alma Mater.
    Hail to thy time-honored name.
    Proud traditions hover 'round thee;
    May we never bring thee shame.

    Loyal sons and daughters love thee;
    Strive to conquer and prevail.
    We will sing thy praises ever -
    College of Charleston, hail, all hail.
    We will sing thy praises ever -
    College of Charleston, hail, all hail.

  • College Seal

    College of Charleston sealThe College of Charleston seal, derived from the City of Charleston's seal of 1783, was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1843. The seal includes Latin phrases meaning "Wisdom Itself Is Liberty" and "She Cares for Her Temples, Customs and Rights." The image depicts a seated woman personifying Charleston, symbolizing the city's reliance on the sea and readiness to defend itself. It shows the woman presenting a laurel wreath to a young man with a diploma in front of "Main Building," now known as Randolph Hall.

  • Colors and Mascot

    The official College of Charleston colors are maroon and white. The cougar is our mascot, and Clyde the Cougar can be seen at basketball games and other athletic events.