Alma mater

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For other uses, see Alma mater (disambiguation).
The entrance of La Universidad de La Habana in Havana, Cuba, with Alma Mater in the front
Alma Mater (1929, Lorado Taft), University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Alma mater (Latin alma "nourishing/kind", mater "mother"; pl. [rarely used] almae matres) is a term that was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele,[1] and later in Catholicism for the Virgin Mary. In many modern languages, it is principally heard as a term of academia. It may also refer to the school, college or university which an individual attended or from which he or she graduated, and is usually the one from which one received a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree.[2] The term may also refer to a song or hymn associated with a school.[3]

Alma Mater Studiorum (nourishing mother of studies) is the motto of the University of Bologna,[4] the oldest continuously operating university in Europe. Other European universities, such as the Alma Mater Lipsiensis in Leipzig, Germany, or Alma Mater Jagiellonica, Poland, have also used the expression in their names. The College of William and Mary, located in Virginia, has been called the "Alma Mater of a Nation" because of its ties to the founding of the United States.[5]

Alma Mater Europaea is an international university founded by the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2010. Its headquarters are in Salzburg, Austria, but most of its 800 students study at university's Slovenian campus called Alma Mater Europaea – Evropski center, Maribor.

At Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, the main student government is known as the Alma Mater Society.


The ancient Roman world had many statues of the Alma Mater, some still existent (e.g. at the Palatine Hill in Rome). She was considered the central deity in the Aventine Triad.[citation needed]

On the campus of Columbia University, situated on the steps of Low Library, there is a well-known bronze statue of Alma Mater by Daniel Chester French. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign also has an Alma Mater statue by Lorado Taft. A mural in Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library depicts the Alma Mater as a bearer of light and truth standing in the midst of the personified arts and sciences, painted in 1932 by Eugene Savage.

There is another famous Alma Mater sculpture on the steps of the monumental entrance to the Universidad de La Habana, in Havana, Cuba. The statue was cast in 1919 by Mario Korbel, with Feliciana Villalón Wilson as the inspiration for Alma Mater. It was installed in its current scenic location in 1927 above the direction of architect Raul Otero.[6]


  1. ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition
  2. ^ "Alma mater" at Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  3. ^ Alma mater – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  4. ^ University of Bologna
  5. ^
  6. ^ Cremata Ferrán, Mario. "Dos rostros, dos estatuas habaneras". Opus Habana. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 

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