The Towson University Alma Mater

In 2016, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Towson University, the book Towson University: The First 150 Years was created. This blog post is based on the section about the history of school colors as well as the alma mater from that publication.

The first official school song, or alma mater, drew its inspiration from the school colors and first showed up in the 1914 yearbook, Normalite. Entitled “The White and the Gold,” it origins may have been an initiative of the class of 1914, who were the first to drive the publication of a yearbook since the class of 1903’s annual, the Aletheia. The lyrics were penned by English faculty member W. H. (Willis Hammond) Wilcox and the music was composed by music faculty member Robert Leroy Haslup, both of whom joined the MSNS on August 1, 1908. In addition to the yearbook, “The White and the Gold” was included in class and school song sheets used in assemblies, and later in the SGA handbooks that began to appear in the [1950s].

The 1926 commencement program where the “Alma Mater’ first appears.
Interestingly, “The Star Spangled Banner” was not yet the national anthem, so “America, the Beautiful” was sung.

Although “The White and the Gold” was the official school song, it was not the most popular. Beginning in 1926, a different anthem simply entitled “Alma Mater” began to appear in commencement programs. Sheet music for this song indicates that the music was written by George Coleman Gow, for a summer camp song entitled “Abenaki.” A year or two prior to this, perhaps around 1925, an MSNS student adapted the lyrics of “Abenaki,” possibly for his or her class’s song. The “Alma Mater” appeared with “The White and the Gold” in the 1926-1927 student handbook. It also appeared in the 1926 commencement program and continued to appear in commencement programs until 1996, when it was replaced with Maryland’s state anthem, “Maryland, My Maryland.”


As part of the 150th anniversary celebrations, a new Alma Mater was created by J. Kyle Richards, Class of 1992 and the Assistant Director of Bands and Orchestras at Towson University, Brian Balmages.

Oh Towson, our Alma Mater
Set up on the hill,
Where bells of our Stephens Hall
Ring proudly ever-still
Make more than your memories
Take the lessons learned
They give us each our story
As the pages turn
From different paths we’ve come
Down different paths we’ll go
With change and through time
Our spirits grow
Oh Towson, our Al-ma Mater
Make your story told
And find moments to look back
To days of black and gold

In the spring of 2020, the Alma Mater had to be performed virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a celebration of the graduates of this class, and an act of hope that we will all be able to sing it together again one day soon.

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