Folklore surrounding how the University of Arizona came to call Tucson home abounds. As the story goes, the state’s land-grant university wasn’t Tucson's first choice at the 13th legislative meeting in 1885. Several territorial institutions were up for grabs, including a prison, a mental institution, a normal school and a university to teach agriculture, science and engineering.
Tucson instead had set its eyes on regaining the territorial capital from Prescott, but in what would go down in the history books as the "fighting thirteenth, the bloody thirteenth and the thieving thirteenth," the city lost that bid.
Tucson's representative, C.C. Stephens, claimed he was late to the meeting due to weather and had little hope in regaining the capital. His personal interests are the subject of debate, but to save face, he "set his aim on the university as an alternate way to benefit the Tucson community," said Jamie DeConcini, who teaches new Wildcats about the university's rich heritage and traditions every fall and spring semester.
"Tucson residents were infuriated with Stephens' failure to recapture the capital, and he returned to a slew of profanity and a shower of rotten vegetables," said DeConcini, an instructional specialist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Department of Agricultural Education, Technology and Innovation.
Despite the initial upset, the university would open its doors to an inaugural class of 32 students in 1891. From its humble, if not colorful, beginnings to its designation as a Tier 1 research institution, the University of Arizona has made plenty of history since its founding in 1885.
As the university welcomes its largest incoming first-year class on record, DeConcini breaks down some of the historical highlights and traditions all Wildcats ought to know. Read the full story