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Florida Southern College Alma Mater

Florida Southern College graduates are familiar with the Alma Mater, the anthem sung at graduations and other student gatherings. The current Alma Mater was authored by Professor Charles W. Hawkins, who served on the faculty from 1935 to 1957. This Alma Mater was most likely written between Fall 1943 and January 1947.

The Alma Mater, Florida Southern College. Orange Groves O'er spread her campus chimes her hymns in tone, India greets across the garden Southern's mystic throne. Florida Southern, thee we love; thee we'll never fail hail to thee our alma mater, hail to Southern, hail. Stately walls alone can never compass learning's goal heart to heart must pass the token soul in spirit soul

Charles W. HawkinsCharles W. Hawkins

The Mystery

The 1942 Interlachen features an Alma Mater that seems to represent a hybrid between Mary Gatewood Pulliam's Alma Mater (below) and the Alma Mater of Professor Hawkins. Was this a short-lived version penned by Professor Hawkins?

The Foreward of the 1942 Interlachen: "Foregoing the tendency to look in remote places for our theme, we discover this year our 'acres of diamonds' right at home. Our Florida Southern has its own theme - its spirit, its growth, its influence characteristic of impressions deeply ingrained in the lives of its students. For the best positive expression of this theme, we select the words of the Alma Mater, trusting that their repetition introducing the sections of this book will recall cherished memories of the year 1941-42 in years to come." This Alma Mater was reproduced in the September 18, 1943 issue of The Southern.

In the heart of sunny Florida There's a school we love; Golden groves and crystal waters, Bluest skies above. Southern, Southern, dear old Southern Thee we'll never fail. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater, Hail to Southern, hail! Sons and daughters of fair Dixie Standing for the right, Loyal to our Alma Mater - Hail the Red and White!

The Tradition

According to Harris G. Sims '28 in The Story of Southern College: Golden Anniversary Edition, 1885-1935 (p. 60), the "new" Alma Mater was first performed by students during Fall 1927 opening exercises. The Alma Mater was "composed by two students, Miss Mary Gatewood Pulliam (later Mrs. Sam Banks) and Herman Watkins." This Alma Mater was presumably used until adoption of the mystery circa 1942 Alma Mater.

The earliest publication of this Alma Mater appears to be in the 1928 Interlachen, although without attribution. The printing below is from the 1933 Interlachen, and features an arrangement by Iris M. Daniel. Only Mary Gatewood Pulliam is shown as an author.

There's a school we love and honor to her campus memories cling. When we hear the name of Southern loyal fires burn in each heart. Tis of our dear Southern College and her praises that we sing. In her games and work and friendships we will always take a part. We will honor her forever, and we'll loyal be and true. To our alma mater Southern and the floating white and blue.

Portrait of Mary Gatewood Pulliam, '27Mary Gatewood Pulliam, '27

Settling in Lakeland

The first Alma Mater associated with Southern College at the new Lakeland campus appeared in the 1924 Interlaken, annual of Southern College (later known as the Interlachen). This Alma Mater includes references to the Pinellas County location of the College (Clearwater), and to Lakeland.

Roux Library does not own a copy of the 1925 Interlaken, and is actively seeking this volume. If you have this volume for sale, we would appreciate hearing from you.

Alma Mater. From the sunny Land of Flowers, Alma Mater, dear, All thy noble sons and daughters Bid thee joy and cheer. Chorus: Southern, Southern, dear old Southern, Surely thou wilt be Ever worthy of our homage, Southern, hail to thee! Round the palms of old Pinellas By the Southern sea, Sweetest memories will cluster, memories of thee. Kindly hearts and hands of Lakeland Bid us welcome true, Welcome to old Alma Mater, Welcome, White and Blue! And our hearts will ne'er forget thee, Alma Mater fair, But eternal love within them For thee we will bear.

Clearwater to Lakeland: A New Beginning

The June 2, 1922 issue of The Southern, the weekly student newspaper, recounted the laying of the cornerstone of Social Hall on May 25, 1922. The two-page paper was dubbed the "Corner Stone Edition" and included reports of Lakeland’s hospitality, a large gathering of alumni at Lakeland's Hotel Thelma, and prospects for growth of the school.

The song "Here's To Southern!" was published on the second page, with this description: "This new Southern College song, the words of which were written by Professor Francis T. Long, Professor of English, and the music adapted from Aletter's Rococo by Professor Louis Alberti (1866-1929), Professor of Vocal Music, was sung for the first time away from the Clearwater Beach home of the college when the college community made its recent visit to Lakeland."

References to the location and characteristics of the school, and the singer’s loyalty to Southern suggest that this was intended as an alma mater.

Here's To Southern! Of thee, old Southern dear, today we're proudly singing, Through all the days to come all honor be to Alma Mater true; Thy sons and daughters now their hearts and hands are bringing - For thee for ever more we'll nobly dare and do. From out thy sacred halls some day we're hopeful going, Perhaps in distant lands in joy or grief we'll bravely roam; But back to thee from us kind thoughts will e'er be flowing, Fond thoughts of Southern true, our olden college home. Chorus: Here's to Southern, here's to Southern, queen of Florida and Lakeland town, Where everybody's busy telling of our Alma Mater's great renown; We love thee, Southern, dearest Southern, and we'll live and die for you, For never brighter colors floated than the good old White and Blue! This new Southern College song, the words of which were written by Professor Francis T. Long, Professor of English, and the music adapted from Aletter's Rococo by Professor Louis Alberti, Professor of Vocal Music, was sung for the first time away from the Clearwater Beach home of the college when the college community made its recent visit to Lakeland.

Louis Alberti. Professor of Voice and Theory of Music. A. B. and A. M., Metropolitan University of Copenhagen. Pupil of Johann Batholdy and Sextus Miscow. From the 1927 Interlachen

The Original?

The 1911 Surf, annual of Southern College (one of the precursors to the Interlachen), included the tune "Hurrah for Southern College," by Ella P. Hilburn, wife of College President John P. Hilburn. It is not known whether this served as an alma mater, but insofar as it refers to the setting and purpose of the institution, and the singer’s relationship to the College, it shares key characteristics with later alma maters. Or almae matres ...

Hurrah for Southern College. (Ella P. Hilburn.) Hurrah for Southern College! Her stately walls, Her lengthy halls, That breathe of truth and knowledge, Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! Chorus: Hurrah for Southern College, Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! She stands for truth and knowledge, Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! The murm'ring pine tree o'er us, The rustling palm, The evening calm, All swell the merry chorus, Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! The sparkling bay so near us, The balmy air, The sky so fair, The birds that sing to cheer us, Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! To us she's growing dearer, As with the truth we're taught in youth, That Heaven's growing nearer, Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

Southern pennant