Skull and Dagger (honor society)

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The Skull and Dagger Society is the all-university honor society at the University of Southern California.[1] Cofounded in 1913 by Hallam H. Anderson and Cloyd H. Marvin, the Society is primarily for graduating seniors consisting of leaders, scholars, and student-athletes.[2] Many great USC alumni have been members of the Skull and Dagger Society, though the identities of the members are kept a secret.



Newly inducted members each year pull a prank on the University and the student body.[3][4] In the past, members have pranked the school by announcing an on campus early screening of the Star Wars Episode I trailer, only to greet the hundreds of students lined up outside the auditorium with U-Haul trailer with a poster that read: "Star Wars Trailer--Episode 1.[3]”Another notable prank includes the Society's 1997 prank, where it staged a memorial for Traveler IV, the University's horse mascot. During the event, a trailer supposedly containing the replacement of Traveler IV arrived only to reveal a donkey, wrapped in a banner that read, "Traveler IV is alive. Don't you feel like an ass?”[3] Recently, the Society has been criticized for its annual prank practice with opponents stating that some of the pranks “damage the trustworthiness and credibility of respected campus services.”[5]


On the day of the prank the newly initiated members reveal themselves wearing odd hats and tailcoats.[4][6]

Dinner Dance[edit]

The Society hosts an annual dinner dance at an upscale venue for its new members.

Gifts to USC[edit]

Skull and Dagger has been known to make gifts to the University. In 1994, the Society donated "The Wall of Scholars" to honor students who have won national and international fellowships, as well as recipients of USC awards.[7] In 2011, the Society embarked to restore the University's class marker tradition and has been donating class markers ever since.[8]

Skull and Dagger Foundation Scholarships[edit]

The Skull and Dagger Foundation has established two scholarships in memory of former Permanent Masters of the Society. The first was established in 1989 and is named in memory of Dr. Kenneth Owler Smith, a professor of Journalism, who served as Permanent Master of the Society from 1983 until his death in 1988.[9] The second was established in 2002 in memory of Dr. Harrison M. Kurtz, a professor of Biological Sciences, who served as Permanent Master from 1989 until his death in 2001. Both scholarships are awarded annually to the continuing USC students (graduate or undergraduate) who have demonstrated significant campus and/or community leadership.[10]

Notable Members[edit]

Notable members include Reggie Bush, Norman Topping, Rick Caruso, Brad Thor, Matt Barkley, Steven B. Sample, and Rufus von KleinSmid.[11]

See also[edit]