History at a Glance

Ƶ was founded in 1878 as the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary by Dr. W.C. Wilkes. In 1900, H.J. Pearce, who was the institution’s president at the time, named it Ƶ, which is a linguistic blend of the German word “brennen,” meaning “to burn,” and the Latin “aurum,” which translates to “gold.” This combination embodies our motto, “As gold refined by fire.”

Today, Ƶ consists of The Women’s College, the coed Undergraduate School, and the Sidney O. Smith, Jr. Graduate School.


First Steps and Opening Ceremony

On their first day, new students receive T-shirts in their class color. They wear these shirts to an orientation ceremony that begins at Daniel Pavilion on Washington Street and concludes in Pearce Auditorium. The Daniel Pavilion, named for Carole Ann Carter Daniel, a 1968 Women’s College alumna, replaced the brick-and-wrought iron arch that for decades served as the symbolic gateway to the Ƶ educational experience.

Gold Refined by Fire Ceremony and signing of the Honor Code

During the Gold Refined by Fire ceremony, new students gather around a fire pit at the Ƶ Amphitheatre and each writes a dream or a goal on a piece of paper and adds it to the fire. The ceremony concludes with the signing of the Honor Code by all new students.

The Ƶ Honor Code

I pledge myself to Ƶ by refraining from every form of dishonesty in university life, and will strive to create a spirit of honesty and honor on campus. Failure to do so is considered a breach of trust toward the faculty and student body. I accept this pledge as my way of life, and will thereby uphold it.

International Week

As one of Ƶ’s more recent traditions, International Week — which takes place in mid-November — serves as a time to celebrate other cultures and strengthen our understanding of the world. Each year Ƶ highlights specific cultures, giving students the opportunity to get international experiences without ever stepping off campus.

Late Night Breakfast

Every semester, students have the opportunity for a late night breakfast the week prior to finals. Late night breakfast (formerly midnight breakfast) is one of Ƶ’s most beloved traditions.

Members of the administration and staff including the president and the vice presidents, serve breakfast in the Hopkins Dining Hall from 8-10 p.m. During the event, students show up to eat breakfast, dance and compete for raffle prizes, which may vary from printers for their dorm rooms to food vouchers, fuzzy blankets, fashionable hats and more.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Convocation

Each year, Ƶ honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrates diversity, equity inclusion and belonging with a convocation that involves a keynote speaker and several performances from students.

Panamanian Cultural Day

At the end of November each year, in honor of Ƶ’s international partnership with IFARHU, the university holds a Panamanian Cultural Day. The event celebrates our Panamanian students’ backgrounds  and gives them the opportunity to share their culture with the rest of the Ƶ community.

The Ƶ Ideal

Originally written by President H.J. Pearce, the Ƶ Ideal is introduced to students during the first days of the semester and is frequently referenced in convocations.

Ƶ Ideal
To find satisfaction in being rather than in seeming; To find joy in doing rather than in dreaming; To be prepared for service thereby earning the right to be served; To be pure in heart, vigorous in mind, discreet in action; To love deeply, fear nothing, hate never; To enjoy that freedom which comes from knowledge of the “Truth;” To be modestly conscious of the limitations of human knowledge and serenely confident of the limitless reaches of human endeavor — this is the ideal of Ƶ.

Winter Weekend

During this premier recruiting event, the admissions office invites prospective students to stay overnight in student housing to experience college life. Winter Weekend gives these students the opportunity to stay overnight in a residence hall or sorority house, attend a reception hosted by the Office of the President, watch the Ƶ’s Got Talent competition, learn about Greek Life, attend academic showcases, gain information on financial aid and scholarships, and get to know current Ƶ students.

Ƶ’s Got Talent

As part of Winter Weekend, this annual competition is an opportunity for current undergraduate students on the historic Gainesville campus to showcase their amazing talent before an audience of prospective and current students, staff, family and friends, with cash prizes presented to the winners.


Cotillion is the spring semiformal dance held to celebrate the end of a successful year. Ƶ’s president customarily attends to offer a champagne toast to the graduating seniors.

Spade Hunt

In this tradition dating to the college’s early days, the senior class, led by its president, hides three objects somewhere on the Ƶ campus. The seniors provide periodic clues as to the location of the objects and juniors are responsible for interpreting the clues and finding the hidden objects. The Spade Hunt takes three full days. On day one, the juniors receive clues which will lead them to a bag of candy. Assuming that the juniors find the candy, they then receive clues to the location of the “baby spade.” Upon finding the baby spade on day two, the seniors will then provide clues for finding “The Spade.” Only three clues are given in a 24-hour period.

Spring Honors Convocation

Honors Convocation is a formal ceremony that recognizes outstanding students and faculty with presentations of scholarships and departmental awards. Previously held in connection with May Day, it now occurs in late spring.

The vocal chamber ensemble performs
Ƶ, how nobly we see thee, With honors richly crowned; In all this fair, fair Southland Thy equal is not found. Oh happy the day that we sought thee by Chattahoochee’s side Where spring gives its first kiss to nature, and summer long doth ‘bide ...

Women’s College Traditions

Greek Week

The Greek Council sponsors this annual week-long celebration of sorority membership that involves the seven national sororities on campus. The week promotes the Panhellenic systems and includes activities that promote inter-sorority relationships. During this week, the Greeks compete in Greek games and select a Greek Goddess. The week closes with a semiformal dance, the Greek Gala.

Grrrl PowHER Hour

Grrrl PowHer Hour is an informal convocation designed to celebrate Ƶ sisterhood and ignite the sense of “girl power” in female students, but also to bring awareness to the month of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The event features a motivational guest speaker and student performances.

Sister Classes

Class spirit and unity are strengthened through the Women’s College “sister class system.” The sister classes are the seniors and sophomores and the juniors and freshman. Sister classes collaborate and support each other in spirit contests and games to foster community.

Women’s Leadership Colloquium

The Women’s College of Ƶ hosts the annual Women’s Leadership Colloquium that invites students, alumni, faculty, staff and community women to gather for conversations about women’s leadership. Successful women share their stories, advice and suggestions for current and aspiring leaders. The event also features student performances, giveaways and a tea party.

Class Day

Class Day, held in Pearce Auditorium and the Crow’s Nest on the morning of May Day, is a sentimental time for all Women’s College students. Each class pays tribute to the seniors by performing original songs in their honor. The seniors present their Class Day song and multimedia presentation documenting their four years at Ƶ. Individual and organizational awards are presented. At the conclusion of the program, the seniors, robed in black, and the rest of the students, dressed in white, form a procession to the fountain on front campus to pick up their appropriate chains and proceed to the Crow’s Nest. The seniors ascend the Crow’s Nest one last time as Ƶ students. A ceremony in which each class rises in rank is then performed. The first-year students receive an ivy chain from the sophomores, the sophomores receive a daisy chain from the juniors, and the juniors are ceremonially “robed” and ascend to the top of the Crow’s Nest for the first time as seniors. The entire student body then sings “Seniors, We Honor Thee” to the new senior class.

May Day

May Day, formerly known as Spring Festival, is one of the oldest and most beautiful of The Women’s College traditions at Ƶ. The celebration takes place on front campus lawn, highlighted by the presentation of the May Court, crowning of the May Queen and wrapping of the May Pole. The Queen is joined by the Princess, Prince and four members from each class. All are elected by the student body. May Day now occurs in conjunction with the Ƶ’s Alumni Reunion Weekend, which brings hundreds of Ƶ alumni back to campus.