Behind every university, there are landmarks...unique icons that leave a legacy and will always be remembered.

Some are born as monuments to a university’s history, others emerge organically from traditions over time, and a select few are remembered because of their, let us say, more unique qualities. Whether you were on SEMO’s campus just a few years ago or several decades, you likely have a vivid (or suppressed?) memory of one particular landmark - Cardiac Hill. 

As recently reported by our very own Arrow, Cardiac Hill was originally paved to create a pathway for students to get to the center of campus from the Towers Complex, but it has grown to be so much more than that. From sledding with lunch trays in the snow to running when you were late to class, Cardiac Hill has created memories (and some nightmares) for Southeast students and alumni that will last a lifetime.  

So how did Cardiac Hill get its name? Legend has it that many years ago the hill was used as a training site for the football team. Members of the team would sprint up the hill to prepare for upcoming games until their legs were shaking and their chests were sore from their heart beating so fast. After completing their training, many players would complain that they felt like they were having a heart attack. Ever since, the hill has been known as Cardiac Hill to anyone who sets foot on our campus.  

Cardiac Hill: History

  • Looking into the past on a beautiful day with students climbing Cardiac Hill.
  • Students sledding down Cardiac Hill
  • Present day students walking down Cardiac Hill
  • When prospective students visit campus, they get a t-shirt that reads I climbed Cardiac Hill.

For all its infamy, Cardiac Hill has cemented its place in SEMO’s long history. The name alone has become part of the SEMO vernacular, right alongside names like Scully, River Campus, and The Dome. The shared experience of hiking up Cardiac Hill even birthed a new tradition as well as a new kind of landmark. We cannot mention Cardiac Hill without mentioning the Gum Tree. 

The Gum Tree is located at the top of Cardiac Hill and is home to the chewing gum of many Southeast students and alumni. For many, it stood for victory after conquering the exhaustive trek up the hill. The tree (well...trees) have earned history and reputation of their own, but it all started with Cardiac Hill. To this day, the hill lives on, testing all who challenge it and keeping our memories (and cardio) going strong for years to come.