Traditions & History

Monmouth 101

Our traditions and history tell our story. They are the reasons why you suddenly need every tartan clothing item you can find, you’re kind of falling in love with the sound of bagpipes and turkey bowl isn’t something just for Thanksgiving. 

The pipes are calling Monmouth College Pipe Band leading the processional at our annual matriculation ceremony welcomin... Monmouth College Pipe Band leading the processional at our annual matriculation ceremony welcoming the new class.

Scots could hardly be Scots without bagpipes, and the Monmouth College Pipe Band consistently plays among the best. The College awards piping scholarships and recruits student pipers from Chicago, Toronto, Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest who have experience with well-known pipe bands. The pipe band plays for nearly every home football game, many parades and processions, as well as competitions and concerts. Perhaps most memorable, each year they lead the procession of new students at Matriculation and graduating seniors at Commencement.

Now walk it out

A parade held in your honor through downtown Monmouth is led by a piper and drummer, where you will join other first-year students who are greeted by Monmouth merchants. Businesses and organizations welcome students with coupons, refreshments and gifts. Come home with the menus for your soon-to-be favorite pizza or Chinese restaurant and introductions to the stores and services on which you will rely during college.

Turkey Bowl triumphs Turkey Bowl champions now over 20 years in a row. Turkey Bowl champions now over 20 years in a row.

We played our first football game against neighboring Knox College in 1888, beginning a rivalry that is the sixth oldest in college football. The annual “Battle for the Bronze Turkey” is because the turkey-shaped trophy originated when the game was annually played on Thanksgiving.

Scots Day, Scholars Day

An annual spring observance, honoring the college’s founding, showcasing student talents and celebrating their scholastic achievements. Classes are canceled to allow students to attend Honors Convocation, participate in games and competitions, present performances, and make scholarly presentations.

Our history

A nationally ranked, residential college, Monmouth celebrates its history as an outstanding private liberal arts college dedicated to excellence in undergraduate education.

Founded as an academy in 1853 by the Presbyterian Church, Monmouth College’s initial financial support came from local leaders — many of whom were not Presbyterian — who appreciated the benefits that a strong academic institution would bring to the frontier town of Monmouth. That broad local support continues to this day. 

From its beginning, the College admitted women and minorities, being one of the first U.S. colleges or universities to do so.

Wallace Hall’s namesake 1963 Commencement 1963 Commencement

The Rev. David Wallace, the first president, was a brilliant young scholar who was elected president of Muskingum College before he completed his own college diploma. He also felt called to preach, and he built two successful mission churches in Massachusetts before accepting the Monmouth presidency.

We must educate

Founded on the eve of the Civil War, the College immediately faced a serious crisis — its campus was still under construction while virtually the entire male student body left for military service. President Wallace issued what would become a legendary proclamation – “We must educate, whether there be peace or war” — and saw the college construction through to successful completion while keeping classes in session for a primarily female student body.

Medal of Honor history

Monmouth’s exceptional military heritage began with the Civil War, when it furnished 232 soldiers and sailors from the student body, faculty and Board of Trustees. Two were awarded the Medal of Honor (George H. Palmer and James K. Duncan), and Abner Harding, a college trustee who raised a regiment composed largely of Monmouth students, was commissioned a brigadier general for his leadership.

Stockdale Center and Dunlap Terrace are named for two remarkable alumni who were both Medal of Honor recipients. Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale ’46 was a POW in Vietnam in 1965 and later president of the Naval War College and candidate for vice president of the United States. His cousin, Bobby Dunlap ’42, was a Marine captain decorated for bravery at the Battle of Iwo Jima.