About one year after the University was founded in 1850, Rochester adopted its beloved motto, Meliora–Latin for “ever better.” A few years later, the first campus was built on eight acres of dandelion-covered pasture. Today, our motto and our dandelion are ever present as tributes to our past and emblems of Rochester’s maverick spirit.
The idea for the motto is credited to Asahel Kendrick, professor of Greek at the University in the 19th century. It likely originates from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, book 7, lines 20–21: “video meliora, proboque...,” which means, “I see better things, and approve...”
The dandelion reflects the Rochester spirit of perseverance. In 1853, Azariah Boody donated eight acres of pastures on his East Avenue estate to the University, which became the Prince Street campus. According to legend, the well-fertilized pastures resulted in a proliferation of dandelions and led to the flower’s adoption as the school emblem.
Rocky is based on the yellowjacket wasp common in North America. Since its creation in the mid-1920s, the mascot has been portrayed in a range of styles, from club-wielding to cuddly. The current version debuted in 2008 to better reflect the fierce competitive spirit of our Yellowjacket athletes.
“And may our hearts
Where’er we roam,
Forever loyal be
To our beloved college home
Beside the Genesee.”
So ends the final refrain of our alma mater “The Genesee.”Listen on SoundCloud
As a community, we cherish long-held customs and embrace opportunities to build new traditions that unite us.
One of the University’s oldest traditions, the Boar’s Head Dinner began in 1934 and is held annually in December. The dinner recalls the spirit of English court dinners, such as those served at Queen's College, Oxford University, during the Middle Ages.
Tunnel travel has been a way of life on the River Campus since the early 1930s. Painting the Eastman Quad tunnel started in the 1970s and is a way for student organizations to announce events and raise awareness.
Celebrated each fall, first-year and incoming students get to work on community service projects. The events pay tribute to University benefactors and philanthropists Joseph C. Wilson ’31, who founded Xerox, and George Eastman, Kodak’s founder.
Embrace winter in Rochester by roasting marshmallows or watching the live ice-carving demonstration while taking in student performances.
During this first-night tradition, the incoming class surrounds the Eastman Quad to learn about the institution’s history and traditions by candlelight.
Walk at your own risk! Legend has it that if you walk under the clock tower in Dandelion Square, something dreadful will happen. The only way to reverse the curse? Throw an acorn at the statue of George Eastman on the quad and have it land in the brim of his hat.
Immediately following the Convocation ceremony, students sign the class roll to symbolically join the University community. Class rolls are preserved in Rush Rhees Library and displayed at Commencement and class reunions.
Founded in 2001, Meliora Weekend combines reunion, family weekend, and homecoming activities. Each year in the fall, we welcome home alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends of the University to experience a weekend full of events.Experience Meliora Weekend
Commencement marks the culmination of our students’ efforts—and the start of their new journey as graduates. Students gather at Fauver Stadium for a University-wide ceremony full of pomp and circumstance that is distinctly Rochester.Discover Commencement