The Alma Mater and Fight Song

Posted by - - Creatives

Students and alumni who are asked to sing Whitworth’s fight song will likely respond with a blank stare, or perhaps the question, “Whitworth has a fight song?” Whitworth does – or, at least, did – have a fight song. In 1932 Whitworth’s pep squad, the Pirettes, debuted at least one version of the song, written by freshman Harold Eastburg, ’40, at a pep rally before a football game against Lewiston.

The fight song was revised in the late 1980s, as Whitworth prepared to celebrate its centennial; a recording of the melody, sans lyrics, is played at many home athletic contests.

In 1931 The Whitworthian sponsored a contest for the student body, offering a $5 prize for the best lyrics written for Whitworth’s alma mater song. Several issues later, a discouraged editorial staff reported that no entries had been submitted. “All the students of Whitworth must be rich,” they wrote. “If they aren’t, they have no respect for $5, which is saying a lot in these days.” The editors went on to implore their fellow students, saying they didn’t even have to write the melody (the music department would take care of that part), just the lyrics, typed and double-spaced, with a carbon copy included. Finally, at a Whitworth banquet in 1932 Dorothy (Farr) Dixon, ’23, performed the winning “Hail Whitworth Hail,” written by Lawrence Mitchell, ’27, as the new alma mater.

Sixty years later, the best-known rendition of Whitworth’s alma mater features lyrics that were revised by Professor of English Leonard Oakland and Academic Dean Darrell Guder in honor of Whitworth’s centennial, in 1990. This version continues to be sung at Whitworth ceremonies, including Commencement and Convocation.