Traditions & History

Established in 1910 as a teacher-training institution, Bowling Green held its first classes in 1914, but it was not until the following year that the first two buildings--now University Hall and Williams Hall--were ready for use. Student enrollment for that initial year totaled 304, with a faculty of 21. The first bachelor's degrees were awarded in 1917.

In 1929, the functions of Bowling Green were expanded to provide four-year degree programs in the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts. The Schmidthorst College of Business and graduate programs were added in 1935, the year in which Bowling Green attained full university status. In 1947, the Graduate School was formed, and BGSU awarded its first doctorate in English in 1963.

Beginning in 1946, extension programs of the university were offered in Sandusky, Ohio. During the next two decades, course offerings there were expanded and in 1965 a regional campus of the University was established to serve Erie, Huron and Ottawa Counties. That campus is now Firelands College, located in Huron, Ohio. Firelands College, which opened for classes in 1967, offers career and technical education leading to associate degrees in 15 areas as well as eight bachelor's degree programs.

In the 1970s, three new colleges were added to the University's curricular offerings. In 1973, the College of Health and Human Services was established to provide degree programs in specialized areas in various health and community service fields. In 1975, the School of Music was expanded into the College of Musical Arts, and in the same year the Graduate School became the Graduate College. The School of Technology was granted college status in 1985.

The New University Pendant

Professor Tom Muir completed a ceremonial medallion for Bowling Green State University President Sidney Ribeau. This medallion replaces the one created in 1964 (see below).

The medallion created by Muir symbolizes the values of Ribeau's administration: intellectual, spiritual and creative growth; learning community; inquiry and discovery; and collaboration and collective effort. The design features three interlocking rings, set inside a set of concentric rings and encircled on the outside by coils. This reflects the interconnectedness of the University. In the center is a rutilated quartz sphere, resembling a mini-universe, and representing the University's global perspective. Both Muir and Ribeau were cognizant of the need to have it be at once contemporary and yet reflect traditional design so that in future years it would not become dated. That, too, reflects the mission of the University, to have both a solid foundation while looking forward. The entire medallion was fabricated from sheet and wire, rather than relying on casting processes. The resulting medallion was more integrity and reflects a higher level of technical accomplishment.

The Historic University Pendant

A silver pendant containing the inaugural symbol and University seal was worn on ceremonial occasions by the president of Bowling Green State University, from the time of William T. Jerome to that of Sidney Ribeau. The medallion was created in 1964 by BGSU Professor Carl D. Hall, depicting a "tree of knowledge" and symbolizing the University's growth at that time.

The inauguration symbol appears as an abstracted form within a bell-shaped triangle. The tree symbolizes growth and change. To some it may represent the Tree of Knowledge, with knowledge itself being characterized by growth and change.

The tree has a solid root structure that symbolizes stability and closeness to Mother Earth, or the necessary foundation in the fundamentals before branching out into full growth and change.


The University Seal

The official University Seal was designed by Leon Winslow in 1914 to follow the format of the State Seal of Ohio. When faced with the problem of designing a seal for the new Normal College, Winslow suddenly remembered that William Creighton had felt the new Normal College was the rising sun of a great new institution of learning. He therefore decided to pattern his seal after the State Seal. It was, in contrast to the State Seal, divided into four parts, the mountain range, the brilliant sun, the bundle of 17 arrows representing Ohio's rank in the Union, and the sheaf of wheat to signify the great agricultural industry of the state. Around the outside of the main design were printed the words "Bowling Green State Normal College."

Several changes in the lettering have taken place in the seal, as the State Normal College became a state college and finally a university. In January 1958, Glenn Christian, University purchasing officer, made a few minor revisions in the seal, including the addition of the buckeye, the state tree and the carnation, the state flower. He also made minor changes in the sun's rays, the fringe lines and the type of lettering used.

Seal Traditions

If you stand on the seal at midnight and kiss your sweetheart, you will soon be married.

If you and your sweetheart are holding hands and let go as you walk around opposite sides of the seal, you will soon break up.

If you pass to the right of the seal, you will do well on your next test.
If you pass to the left of the seal, you will fail your next test.

The Team Name
On Oct. 28, 1927, the nickname "Falcons" was originated for teams representing Bowling Green State University. BGSU was then a struggling State Normal College but it was already was trying to communicate the idea that it was by then a degree-granting institution. Common nicknames, used by sports writers throughout the state were "BG Normals," "Teachers," and the "BG Pedagogues." The current mascot was suggested by the sports editor of the Daily Sentinel Tribune, Ivan "Doc" Lake, a BGSU graduate. He thought the nickname was fitting because it was indicative of a small but powerful bird, its coloring represented the Bowling Green school colors, and like the athlete, the falcon is a bird that goes through a long period of training before battle.


The Birth of Freddie Falcon 

Freddie Falcon was born in 1950 in the minds of the members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. The idea was to try and create school spirit at BGSU athletics events. On Jan. 16, 1950 at the BGSU vs. Ohio University basketball game, Freddie Falcon made his debut appearance introducing himself to the BGSU community. Under the head created from papier-mâché, a feathered cape and brown sweat suit outfit was Bob Taylor, BGSU's first Freddie Falcon.

Frieda Falcon
Frieda first joined Freddie at BGSU on Feb. 25, 1966 as Mrs. Freddie Falcon. Contrary to what one might think, Mrs. Freddie Falcon was actually a male cheerleader in disguise. Frieda re-emerged in 1980 as Freddie's little sister and sidekick. Sue Sheard played the first official female Frieda during the 1980-81 school year. The spirited birds can be seen rooting for BGSU at football, men's and women's basketball, hockey and volleyball games, as well as just roaming around campus. The identity of the actual people who are selected to be Freddie and Frieda are not revealed until the end of the basketball and hockey seasons. Through the years Freddie and Frieda's appearances have changed several times, perhaps by accident or maybe on purpose. During the summer of 1950, the old Falcon's Nest (home to Freddie and Frieda) was located in a log cabin on the current site of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Apparently, some hungry mice got into the cabin and devoured Freddie's papier-mâché head right down to the chicken wire frame. The following year, Freddie's head had a new look. Instead of papier-mâché, he wore something resembling a rubber chicken mask. Freddie and Frieda have also been known to sport their trademark orange Chuck Taylor's, incorporated into the newest costume as comic looking high tops with Falcon heads on them.


Across the Bowling Green State University campus students are subjected to six masked students proclaiming school spirit through signs in black and red stating "SIC SIC SEZ…" This strange group of students is SIC SIC, a secret spirit organization on the Bowling Green State University campus.

SIC SIC was created Oct. 5, 1946 at 12:45 a.m.. Seated in the dark room of BGSU's President Frank J. Prout's office these six young men, Richard Oliver Harig, Erwin Potts, Gilbert Fox, Earl Mott, Max Hofmeister and James Limbacher, anxiously waited to hear why they had been called to the President's office at such a late hour. Each one had received a secret letter earlier that day which told him to meet in the President's office at 12:45 a.m. and to destroy the letter as soon as he had read and memorized it. This letter bewildered the boys and piqued their curiosity. President Prout, Dick Harig, a senior Sigma Alpha Epsilon member, and Reverend James Stoner, the campus minister, had met earlier in the year to discuss the need for more school spirit and had decided that a secret spirit organization was exactly what the school needed. President Prout went through the yearbook and hand picked the six men who would become the original "secret six." They had decided the new spirit organization would consist of two sophomores, two juniors and two seniors.

Unfortunately, President Prout was unable to attend the secret meeting that night, as he was in the hospital, but Harig and Stoner came in his stead. All six young men agreed to join the group and felt honored to have been chosen for the position. The group knew that they must have a unique and original name in order for their organization to stand out, and so SIC SIC was created. The meaning of the name remains a secret, with only members and its alumni knowing what it stands for. The group also developed a constitution which laid out the standards of the organization and the rules governing its members. For instance, if the identity of a member is discovered before the proper time for unmasking, then that member must resign from the group and a new member will be put in his place.

SIC SIC's unveiling occurred that same day at 3 a.m.. The student address system atop the Practical Arts Building (now Hayes Hall) announced the creation of SIC SIC and asked the students to attend the football game which would occur later that day. The Secret Six gave the spirit organization a jump start by placing signs across campus proclaiming, "SIC SIC SEZ..." in black paint and in red paint, "BEAT," "MAUL," "DESTROY" the enemy, to encourage the athletes to defeat their opponents. In the spring the seniors of the group, Harig and Potts were revealed to the student body at the Annual Honors Day Ceremony. In secret, SIC SIC tapped two members of the sophomore class to become new members of the secret six.

Today SIC SIC is still active on the University campus, posting their signs everywhere. Its members are seen attending athletic events throughout the year, wearing their masks and overalls, cheering on the teams, and boosting the spirit of the student body. SIC SIC has survived throughout the decades and has continued to advocate school spirit across the BGSU campus with their attendance at athletic programs and constant barrage of "SIC SIC SEZ" signs.

Names of all graduated SIC SIC members and honorary SIC SIC members


Alice the theater ghost is said to haunt both the Joe E. Brown and Eva Marie Saint theaters in University Hall. Who Alice is remains a mystery. Some legends say that she was an actress playing the role of Desdemona and was killed by a falling object during a performance of Othello. Other stories say she was a former theater student who was killed in a car crash while returning to the University to collect her award for Actress of the Year. Superstition holds that Alice must be officially invited to all performances by the stage manager alone on the stage after the final dress rehearsal. Usually, a seat is left for her at each performance. Some students have claimed to see Alice in the theater; one student even thought he saw her on stage during a performance of Othello. Regardless, if Alice is not invited to the performance, the shows can experience both minor problems and larger disasters.

Alice Prout Hall, built in 1955, was named for the wife of former BGSU President Frank J. Prout. A portrait of Mrs. Prout was hung behind the information desk of the hall and was always a little crooked. It is believed that Prout Hall had a ghost and whenever someone moved the portrait, something bad would happen. In the spring of 2000, Prout Hall was demolished, to make way for the renovation of the Student Union. Currently, Falcon Outfitters stands in the location of the former Prout Hall, where the portrait of Mrs. Prout hangs.


The University Mace

The Mace, used as a weapon in medieval times, is employed today on many university campuses as a symbol of office. The Mace of the President of Bowling Green State University bears symbols and figures representing three related categories of human culture: areas of learning, the vicissitudes of culture, and the waxing and waning of human life.

Designed and created by Harold Hasselschwert, assistant professor of art, the mace weighs six and one-half pounds and is 27 inches long. The mace is engraved and enameled silver, creating a moire´effect as a backdrop for figures representing the six branches of learning: drama, art, literature, music, science and commerce.

Approximately 500 square inches of silver were used in the mace, which is adorned with ancient and medieval symbols. At the base are engravings representing the areas of learning: jester's staff, quill and scroll, lyre, palette and brushes, the atom and the balance.


Falcons at BGSU

Back in the 1960s, for either Parent's Day or Homecoming, Jim Fowler, Marlin Perkins' assistant on the television program "Wild Kingdom," was invited to bring his falcons to Bowling Green. The plan was that he would fly his falcons around the football stadium at halftime and delight the crowd. Before the game, Fowler gave a short lecture and demonstration in the University Ballroom. Everything went well.

To be further assured that the halftime show would run smoothly, Fowler took his falcons for a dry run at the stadium. It was a good thing he did. Falcons, being the flying and fighting birds that they are, attack anything that is airborne. In this case, when released, the falcons began attacking the flags. Certainly, if repeated at halftime, this would not be the aerodynamic spectacle that it was intended to be. Thus, when the audience viewed falcons at halftime, the birds were hooded so that they would not see the flags. So much interest was generated that BGSU soon obtained their own falcons, through funding by groups such as the Alumni and Parents Club. The falcons were kept at a small house on Troupe Street near the studios of Channel 27 (WBGU-TV).

The students who trained and kept the falcons were always distinguishable by their bright orange jackets. The trainers always brought the falcons out on the field during the halftime shows, and sometimes the birds would fly away and become lost. The next-to-last falcon flew away during a demonstration and was never found. The very last falcon was donated to the Toledo Zoo, where it could be kept in style.

School Colors

The story behind how BGSU began using brown and orange as its school colors dates back to 1914. Dr. Homer B. Williams, the University's first president, gathered a group of people, which included Dr. Leon L. Winslow from the Industrial Arts Department, as a selection committee for the school's new colors. While on an interurban (or trolley) ride to Toledo, Dr. Winslow sat behind a woman wearing a large hat adorned with beautiful brown and orange feathers. He was so interested in the color scheme that his committee recommended to the Board of Trustees they approve the combination of burnt orange and seal brown.

Songs of BGSU

The Alma Mater. Words and music by Edith M. Ludwig Bell, winner of the competition held in honor of the Golden Anniversary, 1960.

Ay Ziggy Zoomba
Nearly 75 years ago, Gilbert Fox, an original SICSIC member, World War II veteran and musicologist wrote "Ay Ziggy Zoomba" and introduced the tune to Bowling Green. In 2013, the BGSU Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution formally supporting the promotion of “Ay Ziggy Zoomba” to the status of an official fight song of the University.

Forward Falcons. Composed by BGSU music instructor Dr. Wayne Bohrnstedt, 1949.

Sounds of the Centennial. Composed by BGSU alumnus Ryan Nowlin '00, '04, winner of the BGSU Centennial Fanfare Competition.


Falcon Flames

Many alumni met their soul mate while attending BGSU or married someone who also earned a degree from the University. Falcon Flames are couples who married and both individuals have BGSU degrees. As of August 2010, there are 10,706 Falcon Flame couples living throughout the world.

The group is formally recognized as an alumni society through the BGSU Alumni Association. Valentine's Day cards and annual newsletters are sent to these couples which recollect countless love stories and chance meetings that resulted in a lifetime of love.

Updated: 07/25/2022 04:52PM