I remember some dreary graduations sitting through some tough alma mater renditions over the years at various institutions. The alma maters are often melancholy hymns that speak of school loyalty. They often invoke learning, school colors, and college symbols. I've never liked them and generally find them distinctly out of step with the modern student. Most students first hear the song at graduation and it is quickly forgotten.
Alma maters for most universities were commissioned when the universities first opened. Thus, the songs are often nineteenth or early twentieth century tunes with languorous horns and doleful squeaky clarinets. Check out this one from my masters and Ph.D. alma mater, UW-Milwaukee here. It's a perfectly lovely song, but hardly a memorable piece of music to inspire today's student.
Hofstra had one of these older alma maters until recently. Last year a contest was held to find a new alma mater and the winner was one of our students, Robbie Rosen, who also was a semi finalist on American Idol.
Robbie performs his composition of our new alma mater below. I've sat through it live at the last two Hofstra graduations and it was a home run each time. Students, faculty, and parents all cheer and it is a great way to start the graduation ceremony and get everyone's interest up for the event.
Universities have tremendous talent in the student body. Why not change up the alma mater every ten years or so and build a musical archive representing the talent of the university? Based on Hofstra's experience, our alma mater is no longer an obligatory necessity. It is now an unforgettable showstopper.
(Bonus if you can find and name the U.S. Senator that attends each of our graduations.)