4 UT Fun Facts You Should Know

by Molly Joyce

Today, the University of Toledo educates over 17,000 students enrolled in more than 270 undergrad degree programs. The school’s campuses cover over 500 acres, full of beautiful historic buildings and lovely, sprawling green spaces. 

But, did you know that when UT held its first classes, there was just one professor and 26 students? 

The Rockets have come a long way. 

At Jupmode, we make apparel and gifts that celebrate the American Midwest, including a few of the region’s finest institutions of higher learning. 

There’s no place on Earth that we love more than the University of Toledo. We’re officially licensed to make UT gear, and we do all of our printing right here in the city. Plus, our staff is full of Rocket alums. 

Today, we’re digging into what makes the University of Toledo unique and loveable. Let’s learn all about:

  • University of Toledo history
  • University of Toledo fun facts 
  • Where to find the best University of Toledo clothing and gifts

1 - UT Started With Just One Professor and 26 Students

The University of Toledo was founded on October 12, 1872, by Jesup Wakeman Scott. 

The university describes the school’s founder like this:

“Scott, the editor for The Toledo Blade newspaper from 1844 to 1847, was a public-spirited Toledoan who felt the city should have a university to train young people for responsible positions in the growing community.”
- History of the University of Toledo

Scott endowed 160 acres that would later be used for the Scott Park Campus. However, despite his generosity, the school started off on a tight budget. 

Scott’s plans included supplemental funds from the city, but when the university opened its doors, the city had no money to contribute. 

Thus, the tiny staff had to make the best of what they had. 

In 1875, the university held its first classes. The classroom was in the basement of an unfinished church and the faculty consisted of exactly one teacher and 26 students. 

It would be a few decades before the school reached financial stability. In 1878, the university was broke and had to shut down. In 1884, UT assets were transferred to the city. This began the school’s transformation into the thriving public university that we know today.

2 - The “Rockets” Nickname Was Created During a Football Game

dark blue tie-dye Toledo Rockets sweatshirt

Ever wonder where the Rockets nickname came from? Well, University of Toledo athletes were once nickname-less. 

That changed during a single 1923 football game against Carnegie Tech. 

James Neal was a UT student working in the press box as a spotter—an assistant who helps broadcasters and reporters to identify players and keep track of statistics. 

A reporter asked Neal to suggest a nickname for the UT team. Inspired by their flashy style of play, Neal offered “skyrockets.” The reporter cut it down to just “rockets,” and the nickname was born. 

Looking back, the name was a surprising choice for the 1920s, since it would be several decades before the first human-made satellite was launched into orbit. 

In 1923, Rockets referred to fireworks. However, in 1968 when the Rocky the Rocket mascot was created, he looked much more like a metal rocketship, reflecting the Space Age fervor of the time.

”Love my new UT go-to comfort sweatshirt. Fantastic quality and super soft. Warmness on a cold day. Extremely happy with my purchase.”
Anonymous ★★★★★ Verified Jupmode Sweatshirt Buyer

3 - Centennial Mall’s Layout Was Inspired by Snow Paths

Have you ever seen a path through a grassy field made by constant foot traffic? Even when there’s no pavement or trail, people tend to walk along the same lines to cut the shortest distance between two points. 

These unplanned tracks are known as “desire paths.” 

Occasionally, flexible urban planners and landscape architects embrace desire paths and incorporate them into a space’s formal design. That’s how UT’s Centennial Mall sidewalk paths came to be. 

In 1978, a group of geography students was given the opportunity to help design Centennial Mall. They went up to the Bell Tower and photographed paths made through the snow as students walked to class. Those photos were used to design the sidewalk paths. 

Today, when you look at the paved rays that shoot out across the grass, it’s easy to imagine students trudging through the snow, unknowingly planning part of their campus’s layout.

we make apparel and gifts that celebrate the American midwest

4 - UT Alums Do Big Things

If you’re a UT alumnus, you’re in good company. There are over 100,000 living UT alums, and they’re making their marks across fields of technology, business, and entertainment. 

Have you ever admired the elegant design of a Pringles can? That was an invention of Frederick Baur, Ph.D., UT alumni. 

Here are a few more noteworthy UT Rockets: 

  • Robert Dempsey, Ph.D., Flight Director, International Space Station
  • Phillip Baker Hall, TV and movie actor
  • Chester Taylor, NFL running back 
  • Julius Jacobson, MD, the “Father of Microsurgery” 
  • Charles Balch, MD, internationally honored melanoma expert
  • Andrew Fenaday, movie writer and producer

As an institution renowned for scientific research, it’s no surprise that many UT alums go on to do great things in medical research, technology, and other high-tech fields. They might not all be household names, but brilliant UT alums are changing the world every day.

Where to Find the Best UT Rockets Gear

If you’re a student, alumnus, or fan of the UT Rockets, Jupmode has the fresh apparel you’re looking for. 

Here are a few UT Rockets t-shirt designs you won’t find anywhere else:

Proud to Be a Rocket t-shirt

Proud to Be a Rocket T-Shirt

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blue and gold Team Toledo t-shirt

Team Toledo

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University of Toledo Rocket Man shirt

University of Toledo Rocket Man T-Shirt

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For other shirts, hoodies, and much more, check out the Jupmode UT apparel collection.

”So soft. So comfy. I’m a proud UT grad and I grew up on Drummond road. So, this is a shirt that means a lot to me.”
Wendy M., ★★★★★ Verified Jupmode Sweatshirt Buyer

Along with our university-themed garments, we make the following special apparel and gift collections:

  • Toledo City Pride 
  • Midwesterner 
  • Michigan
  • Ohio 
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Great Lakes 

While we ship items around the USA, we’re based in Toledo. We operate two brick-and-mortar stores around the corner from the UT campus. Stop by any time for your next purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stop by the Jupmode blog for more apparel buying guides and Midwestern cultural tidbits. For answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, see below or visit our full FAQ.

Is Jupmode part of the University of Toledo?

Jupmode is a private company. We aren’t owned by a university, but we hold official licenses to make unique themed apparel for several schools; these include the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University

Where are Jupmode’s retail stores located?

Jupmode operates these two retail stores in Toledo, Ohio:

Jupmode Adams Street
(419) 318-2029
2022 Adams Street
Toledo, Ohio 43604 (click here for directions)
(Mon–Fri 11 am–6 pm, Saturday 11 am–4 pm)

Jupmode Cricket West
(419) 573-2666
3142 Markway Road

Toledo, Ohio 43606 (click here for directions)
(Tues–Sat 11 am–6 pm, Sunday 10 am–4 pm)

How fast do Jupmode items ship?

Jupmode shipping is done through the United States Postal Service (USPS). Packages normally arrive within 7–10 days of order placement. Shipping is free for all orders over $75.

Does Jupmode offer custom printing?

We take custom apparel orders. You can order custom screen printing or custom embroidery. We love collaborating with local non-profit groups, businesses, schools, and organizations.

To learn more about custom and promotional purchases, click here.

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