IUPUI Bulletins » Resources » Community » Special Campus Events: IUPUI Traditions Special Campus Events: IUPUI Traditions

Intercollegiate Athletics—Division I

In the fall of 1998, IUPUI moved into Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The Jaguars men’s and women’s programs joined the Mid-Continent Conference and have performed with distinction. The 2002–03 men’s basketball team won the Mid-Con Conference title and competed in the NCAA tournament. Our Jaguar mascot retains the school colors of red and gold complemented by black and white. Before moving to Division I, IUPUI was a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division II. Even before that, IUPUI was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and won 32 state and regional championships, reaching the Sweet Sixteen in men’s basketball (1989–90) and the Final Four in women’s basketball (1990-91), and finished second nationally in women’s volleyball (1991–92). Beginning in 1983, the women’s softball team made nine consecutive appearances in the NAIA National Tournament, finishing as high as third on three occasions.

IUPUI’s student athletes are proud of two well-established traditions: their above-average academic records and their record of service. Members of the basketball teams serve as mentors and tutors for elementary school children in two Indianapolis elementary schools; and members of the women’s tennis team have conducted clinics for urban youth, introducing them to the game of tennis. In addition, women’s basketball and softball players serve as mentors at the Indianapolis Hawthorne Center.


Every fall and spring semester in the first week of classes, students come to campus to find information booths strategically located on campus and in key buildings. Volunteers from across the campus make up Team IUPUI, and they’re available to tell new students how to get to class buildings and answer questions. Besides dispensing information, the group offers a hearty welcome to new and old members of the IUPUI community.

Getting News and Information

To improve communications—a challenge for any large and complex organization that is especially critical for a commuter campus—the chancellor, many deans, and the president of the Undergraduate Student Assembly annually present a status report for their constituents. They describe what happened in the previous year along with goals for the upcoming year. The campus also has dozens of print publications from schools, offices, centers, and programs, as well as the weekly student paper, the Sagamore, which includes an extensive listing of student activities. Other timely information sources are JagNews, a daily news release distributed by e-mail, and periodic town meetings to discuss campus issues of importance to students, faculty, and staff. Information about the university is also available on the Web at www.iupui.edu.

Explore IUPUI and Campus Day

Students, parents, family members, and friends are invited to visit IUPUI twice a year, in the fall and spring. These events feature booths hosted by various schools, centers, programs, and facilities at IUPUI available to students who enroll. Special mini-information sessions on various programs, on financial aid, and on how to select a major are also offered. One-on-one advising, tours of IUPUI’s nationally renowned University Library, and tours of the facilities are available. More information about Explore IUPUI and Campus Day, and other special events such as open houses geared specifically to graduate programs, may be found at enroll.iupui.edu.

United Way Day of Caring

In the fall, IUPUI joins a community-wide effort to provide United Way agencies with teams of students, faculty, and staff to complete one-day service projects. Service projects vary from year to year, depending upon the needs of the agencies. Typical projects include painting and general cleanup, mailings and special events, and hosting youth groups. In 2009, more than 400 people from IUPUI participated, and each year, more and more students turn out for this fun and satisfying day of community service. Jaguar athletic teams, student organizations, departments, and individuals can sign up by calling the Center for Service and Learning at (317) 278-2662 by September 1.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

IUPUI faculty, students, and staff have shared a tradition with the Indianapolis community since 1970, honoring the memory of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of activities. The day, an official campus holiday, includes a number of events throughout the day, capped by the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dinner, the longest-running celebration honoring King in Indianapolis. The dinner attracts sell-out crowds to commemorate King's goals and dreams and to hear nationally renowned speakers. Past speakers include the famed American poet Maya Angelou; Benjamin Hooks, former director of the NAACP; former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; Hollywood actor and director Bill Duke; nationally syndicated columnist William Raspberry; and the scholar Henry Louis Gates. The Black Student Union with the Black Faculty and Staff Council present awards to outstanding faculty, students, and a community organization at the dinner.

IUPUI joins a national effort to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by making this national holiday a day on rather than a day off. Since classes are not in session, students, faculty, and staff participate in a half-day service project in the local community. A kick-off breakfast is followed by team service projects that may include painting and general clean-up, assisting with a youth basketball clinic, or preparing a low-income home for renovation. Students and student groups may also apply for mini-grants to fund special service projects to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. .  In 2010, over 500 people from IUPUI and the Indianapolis community participated in service to 23 service organizations.

César Chávez Day

Since 2008, IUPUI faculty, students, and staff have celebrated the life and work of César Chávez. A dinner and a service activity are held in honor of Chávez, a civil rights activist who advocated for workers' rights. The Latino Student Association presents awards to outstanding faculty and students at the dinner.

Student Involvement Expo and Ice Cream Social

The annual Involvement Expo is held at the beginning of each fall semester in the Taylor Hall  courtyard. Nearly 100 student organizations use this fair to distribute information, advertise programs, and meet students interested in becoming involved in campus life. In conjunction, the Center for Service Learning brings non-profit organizations onto campus so that students, faculty, and staff can learn more about volunteer activities in the local community. A variety of agency representatives provide program information and a list of ways that volunteers can become involved.

A second part of the fair is the annual Ice Cream Social. Over 90 distinguished dippers serve ice cream to the IUPUI campus community for a mere 25 cents a scoop. This event has become a long-lasting and favorite tradition on campus.

IUPUI Spring Celebration Dance

Since 1987, IUPUI has held an annual spring dance sponsored by the Student Activities Programming Board. This dance, often held in the famous Indiana Ballroom, brings together students, staff, faculty, and alumni for an evening of fun and dancing.

Student Activities Honors Reception

The Undergraduate Student Assembly, in cooperation with the Office of Student Involvement, sponsors the Student Activities Honors Reception each year in April. This event, originating in 1973, recognizes students, faculty, administrators, and staff members who have had an outstanding year as leaders, or who have given of themselves on behalf of the students. Many of the awards given commemorate previous IUPUI administrators such as William L. Garrett, a former assistant dean for student services; Lola L. Lohse, a former dean of the School of Physical Education; and Howard G. Schaller, former executive dean and dean of the faculties, who were themselves committed to students and student activities.

Career and Internship Fairs

Career and internship fairs bring together a large number of recruiters representing a variety of firms to meet with students and alumni in order to fill current or anticipated employment and internship opportunities. Participation in these fairs is an excellent way to enhance career awareness and the job search process. Various fairs are held throughout the academic year, see http://career.new.uc.iupui.edu/Employers/Career-Events for more information and a schedule of these events. 


IUPUI’s schools assemble at the Convention Center for Commencement exercises. Present on the stage are many Indiana and Purdue University trustees, the presidents of both Universities, and the Chancellor of IUPUI. Honorary degrees are awarded to distinguished individuals during the ceremony, and degrees are conferred ranging from associate to professional degrees. The IU and PU Alumni Associations induct their graduates into their respective associations and provide them with an introductory membership. In addition, individual schools hold separate recognition ceremonies before and after the Commencement ceremony.

International Holiday Celebration and Related Events

For over a decade, students, faculty, staff, community members, and family members have attended the Holiday Celebration, sponsored by student foreign language clubs and the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures. At the Holiday Celebration students and their families enjoy foods from over 30 cultures, sing carols and traditional songs in at least 10 languages, and break a piñata. Early in the spring, a combined Mardi gras/Fasching/Carnaval party brings together European, Creole, and South American traditions in an evening of costumes, music, food, and fun. Throughout the year, students participate in events such as international movie nights, lecture series, field trips to art museums, festivals, concerts, restaurants, and dances. The International Dinner series hosted by the Department of Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management, the weekly Culture Hour hosted by the IUPUI International House and International Club, Foreign Language Awareness Week activities, the Model United Nations and Model European Union conferences, and Great Decisions discussion groups are some of the other internationally focused events. Students may also choose to participate in international activities through community organizations such as the Max Kade German-American Center and Turners Athenaeum, El Centro Hispano and La Tertulia, the Alliance Francais, and the International Center of Indianapolis, whose activities are frequently announced in classes and posted on bulletin boards.

The Moving Company at IUPUI

The Moving Company, IUPUI’s dance company, has been in existence since 1986. Its styles include jazz, modern, ballet, and tap. Currently, the company gives an informal concert in the fall and a formal performance in the spring at the Madame Walker Theater, and other performances as time and funding permit. In addition, students perform at a regional American College Dance Festival once a year and host the annual Student Choreography Concert, which is open to all IUPUI students for participation. Any enrolled graduate, professional, or undergraduate IUPUI student with experience in dance can audition in the first week of each semester. For more information visit http://movingco.usg.iupui.edu/