Alumni Pledge

For several decades, newly minted St. Olaf graduates stood in a ring, clasping hands while stating the Alumni Pledge in Norwegian, "Enig og tro indtil Manitou falder (United and loyal till Manitou falls)."

The phrase was derived from the vow taken by the men who signed Norway's constitution on May 17, 1814. Supposedly after the signing, the men formed a circle about the room, joining hands and saying in Norwegian, "United and loyal till Dovre falls."

In her recollections, Manitou Analecta (1968), Dean Gertrude Hilleboe wrote that the Alumni Pledge ceremony became an important part of commencement day.

She noted the alumni formed an outer circle surrounding an inner circle of the new graduates: "With the president of the Alumni Association presiding, the motion would be made to admit officially the new class into the Association. The graduates would step back into the alumni group to form one large circle and with arms crossed join hands and repeat the Alumni Pledge."

The outdoor tradition apparently started around 1913 and continued until the late 1930s when the graduating classes became too large.

Hilleboe added, "When the classes became so large and the visitors so many the outdoor ceremony was discontinued, but a modified form was carried on in the Gymnasium at the close of the graduation exercises. With the present size of our classes and our outdoor commencements even this abridged ceremony is no longer feasible."

A poem by C.K. Solberg, Class of 1896:

Our Alumni Pledge

"United and faithful while Manitou stands,"
St. Olaf alumni will gladly join hands,
And pledge Alma Mater by word and by deed
To loyally back her in every need.

In every-day conduct, in all our career,
We hold high her standard to eye and to ear;
As dutiful children we walk in her ways
And speak of her mission in merited praise.

Her brilliant success we have noticed with pride,
As she has attracted our youth far and wide;
We rally around her in unbroken ring,
To pledge her our love as we gratefully sing.

All hail, Alma Mater, on Manitou Heights!
We'll champion her cause and we'll safeguard her rights,
Her name we will shield and her honor defend;
St. Olaf alumni are true to the end!

We pledge our allegiance with heart, hand and voice
To share all her struggles, successes and joys;
We'll promptly respond to her needs and demands,
"United and faithful while Manitou stands!"
—Nov. 6, 1919 (Founders Day)


Alumni Pledge, June 11, 1913

Alumni Pledge, June 11, 1913

The first-ever alumni pledge ceremony for the newly minted sixty St. Olaf College graduates. This photo was taken in front of Old Main overlooking the town of Northfield. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives | Creator: Ole G. Felland View File Details Page

Class 1932 Alumni Pledge

Class 1932 Alumni Pledge

This photo was taken on in front of the old baseball grandstand, now the Mellby Hall green. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives | Creator: Ella Rolvaag Tweet '32 donation View File Details Page

Alumni Pledge between Old Main and Hoyme Memorial Chapel, 1919

Alumni Pledge between Old Main and Hoyme Memorial Chapel, 1919

Hoyme Memorial Chapel, built in 1906, was destroyed by fire on September 22, 1923. Regents' Hall occupies the former chapel site. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives View File Details Page

Current View: Alumni Pledge Location

Current View: Alumni Pledge Location

St. Olaf graduates used to stand in a circle by Old Main; the ceremony is no longer a part of the graduation celebration. | Creator: Melanie Jones, April 13, 2015 View File Details Page


Taking the Alumni Pledge, 1938.

The film segment shows individuals exiting after the commencement ceremony held in the old gymnasium (currently the speech-theater building). Newly minted graduates form a ring on the Mellby Hall green and take the alumni pledge. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives/moving image collection, "Campus Scenes, 1937-1939." | Creator: Donald Eastman '39 (student filmmaker). View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Jeff M. Sauve, “Alumni Pledge,” NorthfieldHistorical, accessed July 23, 2017,
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