Pacific University Traditions

Student in Old College Hall ready to ring the bell

Sign, Shake & Ring

Sign, shake and ring is a unique tradition at Pacific University that originated in the late 1880s or early 1900s. It is a demonstration of the university’s commitment to its students and graduates.

New students are welcomed to Pacific when they sign their names to the enrollment book in Old College Hall, shake hands with the university’s president and, one by one, ring the bell in the iconic building. 

Old College Hall, built in 1850, is Pacific’s first building and one of the oldest educational buildings still in use west of the Mississippi River. Its bell tower stands as a symbol of the university’s rich history. The bell is rung to commemorate special events.

Sign, shake and ring was originally intended to recognize new students, but the tradition was modified in 2005 to recognize graduating students. Today, students participate in the ceremony at the start of their undergraduate careers at Pacific and return to Old College Hall to repeat the tradition the evening before their graduation. 

In August 2009 President Lesley Hallick PhD added her name to the Book of Enrollment and ushered in hundreds of new students, keeping the Old College Hall bell ringing for hours. The Book of Enrollment records the names of those who will honor and sustain the mission and core values of Pacific and is dedicated to these students and future alumni in a spirit of community, connection and trust.

Then and now Spirit Bench

Spirit Bench

The Spirit Bench has been a landmark and source of pride at Pacific for more than a century. Formerly known as the senior bench, it was donated by the class of 1908, although the original bench was damaged and replaced in 1990. Under the cover of darkness, students periodically repaint the bench, embellishing it with messages of encouragement to mark different events, from graduation to a national campaign honoring U.S. veterans. 

Golden Gaurd procession and sidewalk signing

Golden Guard Sidewalk Signing

Each year, alumni celebrate milestones by gathering with their classmates at Homecoming. One of the most-cherished Homecoming traditions at Pacific is the induction into the Golden Guard society of alumni celebrating their 50th reunion. At the sidewalk signing, Golden Guard inductees receive a medallion and sign their names into a wet-concrete section of the sidewalk outside Old College Hall, leaving an indelible mark on the university.