Explore FSC › History and Traditions
The oldest private college in Florida, Florida Southern was founded in Orlando in 1883 as South Florida Institute. Soon afterward, it moved to Leesburg. In 1885, a college curriculum was added and the college was opened to male and female students. In 1901, the college moved to Sutherland, now Palm Harbor, and in 1906, it was renamed Southern College. The college temporarily moved to Clearwater from 1921 to 1922, and in 1922, it moved again to the shores of Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland. In 1935, the Trustees adopted the name Florida Southern College.
Despite changes in name and location, the College's affiliation with the Methodist Church has remained constant, shaping its mission and traditions.
Our present campus comprises more than 60 buildings and is home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world. The campus itself is included on the World Monument Fund's list of 100 most endangered sites in the world. Most recently, the College received a $350,000 grant from the prestigious Save America's Treasures program.
Wright's architectural legacy continues with the commissioning of Robert A.M. Stern, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture and a Wright scholar, to design state-of-art dormitories and a humanities building for the College.
Founders Week provides our students with the opportunity to celebrate FSC’s heritage. Traditional events this week include the Founders Convocation, which features a nationally known individual as the Honorary Chancellor, and the Founders Ball. At the Founders Ball event, two senior students are recognized for their accomplishments on campus and become recipients of the Agnes Johnson Rowe and the James Rogers Awards.
As an institution grounded in the liberal arts tradition, the Faith and Life Convocation Series brings outstanding presentations and programs to campus, exposing students to a broad range of religious, aesthetic, and social issues. Lectures are free and often open to the public.
What do you get when an elephant comes to campus? You get the annual Fair-well Festival which features a fun, carnival atmosphere complete with rides and carnival food. The event, sponsored by the student organization, the Association of Campus Entertainment, is held in April and marks the nearing of the close for the academic year.
Inspired by the Judeo-Christian principles on which the College was founded, Florida Southern strives to produce global citizens who are prepared to make a lasting impact on their communities. The Cornerstone outlines the standard of behavior that is the foundation for campus life.
The artistic pulse of FSC's community, the Festival of Fine Arts brings to the stage an array of internationally renowned performing artists and provides students with opportunities to engage these professionals through master classes and the chance to perform alongside them.
More than an opportunity to catch up with old friends each March, Homecoming welcomes alumni back to campus to update them on what's happening, to meet and interact with current students, and rekindle memories of those formative and fun years.
Each year in February student organizations and individuals have a chance to show their commitment to service through FSC’s Week of Impact. Sponsored by the Student Government Association, each day of the week provides the opportunity to serve others in a coordinated effort.
"Orange groves o'er spread her campus..." Florida Southern College graduates are familiar with the Alma Mater, the anthem sung at graduations and other student gatherings.
Learn more about our remarkable history, by visiting the McKay Archives Center.
Florida Southern first used the nickname "Moccasins" or "Mocs" in 1926, shortly after the college's move to Lakeland in 1922.
The water moccasin, or cottonmouth snake, was abundant in nearby Lake Hollingsworth, and because the moccasin is one of the fiercest of all snakes—one that will attack unprovoked—the college adopted the moniker for its athletic teams.