16:19 PM

Updated letters to renew Hawk spirit and pride on UHCL campus

University of Houston-Clear Lake is the proud home of the Hawks — and the iconic white letters at the university's main entrance that declare you've entered Hawk territory are about to soar into history.

The HAWKS letters, which are located on University Drive at the Bay Area Blvd. entrance, and the UHCL letters, which are between the Bayou Building and the Student Services and Classroom Building facing Alumni Plaza, have been a part of the university's tradition and symbols of school spirit for years. They've also served as the backdrop for thousands of graduation photos and countless selfies.

They're about to become part of university legend, as new, updated letters will soon be installed on the campus in both locations.

"I made the HAWKS letters because (UHCL President Emeritus) William Staples said he'd like something on campus that said 'Hawks,'" said Bayou Theater Supervisor Robert Nagle. "The original idea was to put them on the hill along with the UHCL letters, but then it was decided to put them where they are now, near the Arbor Building."

Nagle said the original set of UHCL letters had been put together almost overnight about 10 years ago, as part of that year's "Weeks of Welcome" celebration.

"It was meant to be kind of like the Hollywood sign," he said. "The original ones were just pieced together from scrap lumber and only meant to be up for a few days. A few years later, the base of the existing set was put together and also only meant to be up for a couple of weeks every year, but people liked them, so they've stayed."

The university is taking the symbol and spirit of the words to the next level. The new letters will have a more updated, artistic style and cool lighting.

"These letters have been on our campus for years, but it's time to replace them with something more permanent that is fitting for our campus," said Vice President for Administration and Finance Mark Denney. "Last spring, we submitted four different designs, and the students chose the one that will be installed."

The old letters will be removed and then cement footings for the new letters will be put in. "Once they're all ready, we will work with Student Affairs and Student Government Association to have a formal lighting," he said.

The Hawk Spirit and Traditions Council are celebrating the outgoing letters and welcoming in the new letters with events taking place Wednesday, Sept. 15. Students will have the opportunity to take final photos and selfies, as well as leave a painted fingerprint and signatures on the old letters before they're finally removed.

"Although I'm going to miss the old UHCL letters, I think of it as a symbol of growth for both UHCL and the students," said Hawk Spirit and Traditions Executive Coordinator Quadoria Phipps.

For more information about the farewell to the UHCL and HAWKS letters, visit the calendar of events. RSVP online to join the Hawk Spirit and Tradition Council to sign the letters and participate in celebrations.