New Student Life Exhibit at Shields

1962 publicity photo intended to show UC Davis as a bicycle friendly campus. Chancellor Emil Mrak led an initiative to create a network of bike paths around the campus.

1962 publicity photo intended to show UC Davis as a bicycle friendly campus. Chancellor Emil Mrak led an initiative to create a network of bike paths around the campus.

The “Aggie Spirit” is a term that emerged in the early days of UC Davis, when it was still the University Farm, to describe the particular character of our school pride and identity. The Aggie Spirit comes to life through generations of photographs and materials featured in our new exhibit now on display in the lobby of Shields Library.

Forged in a small, tight-knit community of students and professors, the Aggie Spirit was marked by warmth, optimism, friendliness, cooperation and charity. Rooted in our agricultural heritage, it gave UC Davis a distinctive campus identity. The Aggie Spirit was characterized by the “Hello Spirit,” adherence to the Honor System, unique traditions such as Picnic Day and the enthusiastic support of Aggie sports teams.

Over the decades, the Aggie Spirit was interrupted by war, tested by tumultuous societal change and challenged by urbanization and dramatic campus growth. Although the phenomenon may have reached its peak in the 1950s and ’60s, the heart of the Aggie Spirit lives on in the culture of “mutual respect and caring” enshrined in our Principles of Community. A recent survey also put UC Davis in the top 20 of colleges with the friendliest students.

Drawing on material from the University Archives (part of the library’s Special Collections), this exhibit traces the Aggie Spirit through several facets of student life, including academics, school traditions, sports, dorm life, transportation and even fashion. Ultimately, this exhibit is a celebration of the traditions and quirks that make our campus so unique. This and all University Archives material is openly available to the public through the Special Collections department located in Shields Library.

View selected images from the exhibit online, or stop by and see the whole exhibit next time you’re at Shields.