To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the UCLA Alumni Association unveiled two gifts to campus before a crowd of nearly 1,000 alumni celebrants on September 30, 1984. The first was the now iconic bronze statue known as The Bruin, which alumni were thrilled to have after years of feeling frustrated by the lack of an appropriate Bruin symbol on campus.
At 10 feet long, six feet tall and three feet across and weighing in at more than two tons, the statue was billed as the largest bear sculpture in the United States at the time. The giant figure walking on all fours was intended to demonstrate a fluid forward movement symbolizing the ongoing strength and progress of UCLA. The statue cost $37,000 to cast and another $10,000 for artist Billy Fitzgerald’s fee.
With its ferocious look, the grizzly was a departure from UCLA’s familiar, friendly Joe Bruin mascot. “You’ll notice that it’s formidable,” Alexander Hamilton ’24, the founding member of the Alumni Association, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s the antithesis of fragility.” Ever since its installation, The Bruin has become a prominent campus landmark and gathering spot.
The second gift from the Alumni Association was “Mighty Bruins,” a new fight song composed for UCLA by Academy Award winner Bill Conti. Up to that point, UCLA had shared a fight song with UC Berkeley, with UCLA’s version being dubbed “Sons of Westwood.” Tired of listening to the same song whenever there was a touchdown at a UCLA vs. UC Berkeley game, the Association decided it was time for UCLA to have its own unique sound.
Conti, who wanted the song to stand the test of time, told the Daily Bruin, “It is not right for a top-caliber school like UCLA to be sharing a fight song, especially with the excellent athletic tradition which UCLA possesses.”
The Alumni Association sponsored a contest soliciting lyrics from students and alumni with a $1,000 grand prize for the winning composition. In the end, Conti combined lyrics submitted by Barbara Lamb ’66 and Don Holley ’84. For the presentation of the song, Conti led the 250-member UCLA Bruin Marching Band in a rousing performance. The song made its gridiron debut as UCLA’s official fight song at the October 6 game against Stanford, with Conti again conducting the UCLA Bruin Marching Band. Ever since, the song’s “mighty Bruin roar” has resounded at all UCLA sporting events and students and fans end it with a rousing eight clap.