Uncovering Marist College's history
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 23:10
Marist College is home to about 6,000 students, all of which take pride in their membership in the intimate Marist community. Marist College proved itself incomparable to any other university in the hearts and minds of these 6,000 individuals. Marist College is the institution that we, each of the 6,000 men and women, trust with our academic and personal futures. Walking around campus, signing onto the iLearn web portal, even on the clothing of our classmates, we are constantly exposed to the same Marist College symbols. But do we really know what they mean or what exactly they represent? We are proud to call ourselves Marist College Red Foxes, but do we know the significance of the Red Fox or where it originated from? Unfortunately most of us are unaware of the meanings each of the Marist College symbols hold, not because we don’t care but simply because we never stopped to think. As proud Marist College students, we should be mindful of all that Marist stands for. In doing so, we will be able to fully grasp what it means to be a Marist College student.
There are three major symbols that surround Marist College. Not only are they on the sweatshirt your friend is wearing or the school’s academic planner, but one is seen as a real-life figure, The Marist College Red Fox. The Marist College Red Fox was adopted as the official nickname and mascot in 1961 by then athletic director, Brother William Murphy. While scanning a sports book, Murphy caught a glimpse of a “reynard”, also known as, a red fox on the cover of the work. It was then that he decided that the red fox, indigenous to the Hudson Valley, would represent all Marist College sports teams. Murphy chose the red fox because of its intelligence and innovation, characteristics which paralleled those of Marist College students. Because of this particular sports book, 6,000 men and women currently identify themselves with this fury creature that symbolizes their connection to the Marist College community. Secondly, Marist College is symbolized through an intricate Coat of Arms. A shield is placed in the center of the Coat of Arms, surrounded on each side is the college mascot, the Red Fox. The college colors, red and white, stemmed from the colors of the official mascot and logo of Marist sports teams. The traditional Marist bell is located in the left corner of the shield, which was historically used to regulate the lives of the Marist brothers. On the right side of the shield is an Indian, which was adopted from the seal of the town of Poughkeepsie. Liberal arts is represented in the lower half of the shield through the depiction of an atom, illustrating the sciences and an open book and crossed quills, illustrating the humanities. On top of the shield is the official Marist Brothers emblem and below it is a scroll which reads, “Cum Optimis Litigare”, meaning “To Strive for the Best”. The various aspects of the Coat of Arms hold true today and can be incorporated into current lives. We must remember the roots of Marist College and the efforts of the Marist College brothers to improve themselves, as well as, the institution. Like the brothers of the past, we should strive for the best throughout our time at Marist. Lastly, the College Seal encompasses crucial features of Marist College. The College Seal is a circular structure with a detailed center. At the center of the seal is a large ‘M’, which was the traditional symbol of the Marist Brothers. Below the letter ‘M’ is the year 1929, which marks the date when Marist was authorized by New York to grant Bachelor of Arts degrees. Above the letter ‘M’ are 12 stars, which represent the Blessed Virgin who greatly impacted the lives of the Marist Brothers. The Latin phrase above the 12 stars reads, “Orare et Laborare”, translating to “to pray and to work”, which was the original motto of Marist College.
Although 6,000 Marist Students are proud to call Marist College their home, many are uninformed about the traditional and historical elements that make up the modern college. Without the efforts of those that came before us, these same 6,000 students would not be on the campus they are on today. Marist College is represented in three main symbols, the Red Fox, the Coat of Arms, and the College Seal. By acquainting ourselves with these significant symbols, we will have a greater understanding of what it truly means to be a Marist College student.