Between Dandelion Square, the Dandelions or D’lions – who welcome in anxious freshmen – and Dandelion Day in the springtime, there’s an undeniable connection between UR and this copious yellow weed. Looking around campus and seeing the large role that the dandelion plays, many may ask why this is so significant. Why is the yellow of UR’s yellow and blue combination called “dandelion yellow” and why is our school’s lesser-known Alma Mater entitled, “The Dandelion.” The answers lie in Rochester’s history, as a city and as a University.
In the 1830s, Rochester was nicknamed The Flour City because it was the largest flour-producing city in the world. Around 50 years later, in 1888, nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry endowed Rochester with 20 acres of land, now known as Highland Park, and transformed it into the “Flower City.” Rochester’s first campus was on a cow pasture speckled with these yellow flowers, and legend has it that the symbol was adopted in honor of this. The dandelion has been one of the school’s unofficial symbol for the majority of UR’s 150-year existence.
This integration of UR and the city of Rochester through the dandelion is one of many ways that the two are connected; we as members of the University are frequently reminded of the influence that we can have on the city by getting involved and doing our part and the dandelion is a symbol of that connection. This is why it has lasted all these years as a milestone in the University’s history.
The dandelion isn’t just a weed or an emblem at the UR, it is a lifestyle, an understanding and a means for raising school spirit and pride. As our Alma Mater reads, “Let Harvard have her crimson and old Eli’s sons the blue, to the dandelion yellow, we will e’er be true.” Take a moment to grab a dandelion out of the ground while you are grazing the campus and give it a sniff; that’s the smell of knowledge, discipline and independence, three of the many things that UR stands for.
siegel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org