When thousands of University of Arizona graduates step off campus later this month, they will go forth and continue representing their alma mater.
And hundreds of those graduates choose to represent the UA by wearing the official class ring.
Jostens Inc. is the UA's vendor for the class ring, and 12 models of the ring exist. The biannual UA Ring Ceremony will be held May 11, hosted by the UA Alumni Association, UA BookStores and Jostens. Event information is available online. Graduates who have elected to attend the ceremony will receive an RSVP to the event, where they will be presented with their ring.
You can check out photos from the 2014 Ring Ceremony on Facebook.
Jostens also is hosting ring events at the UA BookStores Student Union location on May 12-15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on May 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those interested in learning more about the ring events should contact UA BookStores at 520-621-2426.
The origin of the college class ring is rooted in professional football and military history.
The current iteration of Arizona's official ring was designed 13 years ago by a committee of representatives from the UA Alumni Association and the UA BookStores, said Michael Rattler, the territory sales representative for the Jostens College Division.
Rod Cleveland, past chair of the UA Alumni Association, was a member of the committee that gave inspiration for the final design of the official ring. Cleveland served on the association's national board from 1996 to 2005, and as chair for a one-year term beginning in 2003.
"I was honored that they'd asked me," said Cleveland, a 1963 graduate of the UA. Cleveland's own class ring was a bit more simple: It carries the UA seal, an image of the mascot, the year UA was established (1885) and a few other features.
"I thought 'Bear Down' should really be present, and I liked including Old Main," Cleveland said, adding that he and other members of the committee wanted the redesigned ring to stand not only as a symbol of the campus — its beauty, location and impact — but that it also should have elements indicating the UA's uniqueness.
The history Jostens maintains on the ring notes that it carries either a cardinal red or navy blue stone representative of the UA's official colors, and it has a number of other symbolic features:
- The block "A," which adorns the top of the ring and is meant to represent the annual tradition of painting "A" Mountain in Tucson.
- "Bear Down," the UA's fight song, encircles the top of the ring.
- Old Main is featured on one side of the ring.
- The University seal is presented on another side of the ring, meant as a reminder of academic achievement and future success.
- The campus cactus garden is also featured with Old Main and, with several plant specimens represented, is meant to symbolize campus diversity. The palm trees and cacti represent the state's geography and the beauty of the campus.
- The Wildcat mascot is located on the inside of ring.
- Students have the option to have their graduation year engraved on the ring.
"Everyone was like-minded about what we wanted to appear on the ring," Cleveland said. "It was hard to include everything, but we agreed on the final."
Another tradition is associated with the ring: Bearers wear the ring with the "A" facing toward them before they graduate from the University. This is meant to serve as a reminder about their goals. During the Commencement ceremony, students shift their rings so that the block "A" faces outward, an indication of their success.
The UA's 151st Commencement ceremony will be held May 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. More information about the ceremony is available online for 2015 graduatesand also family members and other guests.
More information about the UA's spring Commencement and convocation events is available online: