Tower Lighting Configurations

Carl J. Eckhardt Jr. never won a Nobel Prize for his work with light, but he started some great University of Texas at Austin traditions.

With two engineering degrees and a faculty post, Eckhardt became head of the Physical Plant in 1931. That positioned him to supervise construction of the campus’ new landmark — the Main Building Tower.

Eckhardt devised a lighting system to take advantage of its commanding architecture to announce university achievements. When he implemented the orange lighting of the Tower, he demonstrated one of the engineer’s chief contributions to society—applying technology for human purposes.

Eckhardt’s orange lights first flooded the tower in 1937. In 1947, he helped create guidelines for using the orange lights. A number “1” on all sides highlighted by orange lights signals that the university won a national championship.

The full Tower glowing orange alone represents a victory over Texas A&M University, Commencement and other occasions the president deems appropriate. The Tower top bathed in orange symbolizes other victories or a conference title in any intercollegiate sport.

Tower Configurations


Standard white Tower lighting

Tower entirely white

Standard Tower lighting configuration








Orange Tower lighting

Tower entirely orange

  • Faculty academic achievements (Academic Convocation)
  • Student academic achievements (Honors Day)
  • Staff achievements (Staff Recognition Day)
  • Academic team achievements with #1 displayed
  • UT’s birthday — Sept. 15
  • Commencement
  • Texas Independence Day — March 2
  • Big 12 Athletics Championship — all sports
  • Student organization sports club national championships
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion

Tower lighting with orange top

Orange top with white shaft

  • Football regular season victories.
  • Football bowl game victories other than national championship
  • Other events at the president’s discretion





Orange Tower lighting with No. 1 displayed

Darkened Tower

Orange Tower lighting with special numbering effect

Orange Tower lighting with fireworks display









Tower entirely orange
with #1 displayed

  • National Championships
  • Other events at the president’s discretion


Darkened Tower with
white cap and observation deck

(all other levels dark, including windows)

  • UT Remembers (annual memorial service)
  • Tower Garden dedication
  • Significant solemn occasions.
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion

Tower orange with special effects

(fireworks, numbering)

  • Commencement
  • Other occasions at the president’s discretion



Flag Lowering Policy

The lowering of flags to half-staff at campus locations is done, traditionally, upon the death of persons as set forth below.

  • Upon the death of a Federal or State official or otherwise at the direction of the President of the United States or the Governor of Texas, the flag of the United States will be lowered to half-staff for the period of mourning defined by the proclamation; the Texas flag must be lowered to half-staff, accordingly. This pertains to flags at all properties of The University of Texas at Austin, including the Erwin Center and Pickle Research Center. [see U.S. Flag Code § 175(m)]
  • Upon notification of the death of a current faculty or staff member or a currently-enrolled student, The University of Texas at Austin may honor that person by lowering to half-staff the Texas flag on the Main Mall. (Flags at other university locations are not lowered unless directed by the President of the University.) The flag lowering is directed by the Office of the President upon receipt of an appropriate request from Human Resource Services or the Dean of Students. An appropriate notation is posted on the plaque located at the base of the flag.
  • Individual memorial ceremonies for deceased faculty or staff members are coordinated by their departments. Individual memorial ceremonies for students are coordinated by the Office of the Dean of Students.
  • Current or retired faculty or staff members and currently-enrolled students who have passed away during the course of a year are all honored as part of the UT Remembers program. This ceremony is traditionally held on the last class day of the spring semester each year.
  • At the discretion of the President of the University, the flags may be lowered to honor the memory of persons with significant relationship to the university.

Policy Date: 05/22/2008
Vice Presidents Council

More About the Tower