SUU Officially Names Two Campus Legacies

Published: March 24, 2018 | Read Time: 2 minutes

suu founders old main dedicationIn 1897, a row of elm trees were planted along 300 West in preparation for the dedication of Old Main (see trees along bottom of photo). Two trees remain today, representing the pioneering spirit of Southern Utah University and the constant commitment to go back up the mountain, despite all odds.

During the 2018 Founders Week Celebration, T-Bird Nation joined forces to name these living legacies. With over 500 name submissions, students and faculty alike voted on Twitter and Instagram Stories over the course of three days. The different polls received over 1,000 votes combined.

Submissions included names like Milton & Scott (after the first and current university presidents), Odin & Mjolnir (from Norse mythology), Morgan Treeman & Mother Treesa, and Smokin' Oakin' & Chemistree. But one pair of names rose through the ranks to stand victorious, perfectly symbolizing SUU’s culture and campus.

These two 120-year-old trees will henceforth be known to the world as Lightning & Thunder.

The names of these trees will be engraved on plaques and become part of the SUU legacy, a legacy that began with striking examples of commitment to education.

In 1897, these young trees were planted to bring life and beauty to southern Utah’s first teacher training school. They’ve survived the fierce wind and snow of Cedar City. They have witnessed the transition of the Branch Normal School to Branch Agricultural College in 1913, then to College of Southern Utah in 1953 and Southern Utah State College in 1969 and finally to Southern Utah University in 1991.

lightning and thunder trees on campusThe trees have seen countless freshmen nervously walk to class their first day. They’ve sung along with the Bell Tower each commencement day. They’ve watched the growth of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the building of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts and with it the Southern Utah Museum of Art. What started off as one building has now grown to over 50 and counting.

These two elms have supported and strengthened SUU from the very beginning. What they represent is something far greater than any single student or president alone. They stand for the dedication, determination, and desire of all SUU students.


Plaques will be created and installed in preparation for Arbor Day 2018.

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