The University of Texas at Austin
  • The truth behind the university’s myths

    By Jim Nicar
    Jim Nicar
    Published: Sept. 19, 2007

    Myth: Bevo was named because of a branding by A&M pranksters
    This is a persistent myth, and is still one of the best–known stories on the campus. During a late night visit to Austin, a group of Texas Aggie pranksters branded the university’s first longhorn mascot “13 – 0,” the score of a football game won by Texas A&M. In order to save face, university students altered the brand to read “Bevo” by changing the “13″ to a “B,” the “–-” to an “E,” and inserting a “V” between the dash and the “0.” For years, the Aggies have proudly touted the stunt as the reason the steer acquired his name.

    While the first Bevo was indeed branded 13 – 0, the rest of the tale isn’t true. Bevo acquired his name months before the Aggies paid their infamous visit, and the brand itself was never changed

    Myth: When viewed at an angle, the university’s Tower looks like an owl because it was designed by a Rice University graduate
    Of all the campus myths, this is the one I hear most frequently. If you view the top of the tower from a corner, two of the faces of the tower clock are supposed to resemble a pair of owl’s eyes, while the corner of the observation deck suggests a beak.

    All of this was allegedly on purpose because the architect of the Main Building and Tower, it’s claimed, was a graduate of Rice University.

    Actually, the architect was Paul Cret, who was born in Lyon, France and graduated from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

    The origin of this myth might be connected to Dr. William J. Battle, who was hired in 1893 to teach Greek and rose through the ranks to be a professor, dean and, for a short time, the acting university president.

    He founded the University Co-op, designed the UT Seal and for many years was the chairman of the Faculty Building Committee, the group that advised the Board of Regents on campus construction.

    Battle’s work on the campus was so trusted that no building was approved unless he agreed.

    When Battle was first hired, he wound up with the office on the top floor of the Old Main Building. He named his new digs the “owl’s nest.”

    In the 1930s, when Old Main was demolished and the new Main Building and Tower were completed, Battle was again given an office on the top floor and continued to call it the owl’s nest. It may be that persons pointing out Battle’s office added the clock faces as owl eyes. After Battle retired in the 1950s, the Tower design might have been mistakenly associated with Rice University.

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