Campus Traditions

Campus Traditions

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Founded in 1947 by the Basilian Fathers, the University of St. Thomas has formed its traditions over the last 66 years of growth as Houston’s only Catholic university. Service and spiritual growth informs the character of the UST student body. The diversity of our student body provides a depth to our celebrations from a global perspective.

The President’s Day of Service and campus relief efforts for unexpected events like Hurricane Katrina focus on this engagement with the world as an important tradition of UST.

President’s Day of Service

Dr. Robert Ivany invites the campus community to roll up their sleeves and get to work during the President’s Day of Service. Founded in conjunction with Dr. Ivany’s inauguration in 2005, the President’s Day of Service is a tradition that gives the campus community an opportunity to truly embody the Basilian core values of goodness, discipline and knowledge.

Intellectual and Spiritual Traditions

The UST Research Symposium is an intellectual event held annually, while spiritual events such as the Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas; the Mass of the Holy Spirit; the Good Friday Way of the Cross from the Chapel of St. Basil to the Co-Cathedral; Posadas; and the St. Patrick’s Day Mass follow a regular cycle of Church celebrations. 

Social Traditions

Our diverse community enjoys meeting and welcoming one another and needs very little encouragement to gather, relax and socialize. Having fun is as simple as buying pizzas for a hall party on a Friday night. Residence Life sponsors Wonderful Wednesdays, Jello Games, dodge ball contests and Spirit Days as regular celebrations of campus life.

The campus celebrates holidays with parties like Deck the Mall at Christmas and Neewollah, UST’s annual Halloween bash. Other activities such as the Welcome Back BBQ, Mardi Gras, Festa Italiana with Italian food and music, the UST Idol talent show, the Spring Formal and the Day of Love are all festivities for the entire community to enjoy.

Mardi Gras

Donning beads and masks, alumni and students celebrate the 63-year-old tradition of the Mardi Gras Gala. The student body and faculty nominate two students of faith and character (preferably scholarship recipients) to be the king and queen of Mardi Gras at this Fat Tuesday homecoming event that combines food, music and a live auction fundraising opportunity for UST scholarships.


Neewollah, a time-honored UST tradition for over 50 years, includes pumpkin carving, a costume contest with fun prizes, food and beverages and dancing. There will be a candy bar, a caricature artist and sometimes even a haunted house.

International Festival — I-Fest

I-Fest is organized by the International Studies Society and is one of the largest events on campus. It is dedicated to the promotion of knowledge and awareness of our global community. Enjoy food and festivities from around the world including live performances and dancing.

Family Weekend

Family Weekend occurs during the fall semester and is an opportunity for parents, grandparents, other family members and friends to visit their students and to learn more about the University of St. Thomas. The St. Augustine Birthday Carnival & Celebration, Sunday Mass and a brunch following Mass culminate the three-day program.