History & Traditions

The University of Arizona was established in 1885, and 27 years later, Arizona became a state. The first building, Old Main, was completed in 1890. It housed the School of Agriculture with classrooms, labs and a mess hall. 

There were many obstacles on the path to opening the university. However, we never gave up on our mission. Our first graduating class of three students in 1895 set us on an incredible journey of learning and discovery with stories of wonder that continue to shape our Wildcat spirit.

The 'Bear Down' Story

John 'Button' Salmon

“Tell them... tell the team to bear down.”

University of Arizona Athletics’ most enduring tradition is the slogan and battle cry, "Bear Down." Learn about John "Button" Salmon and the lasting legacy he created at the university.