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University of Hard Knocks


The University of Hard Knocks is an honorary society conceived by West Virginia newspaper editor Jim Comstock in 1947. The society serves in a lighthearted way to recognize people who succeed in life without the benefit of a college degree. The University of Hard Knocks has its own seal, which includes a motto in Latin that translates to ‘‘Blood, Sweat and Tears.’’ The official colors are black and blue.

Those who wish to become members of the University of Hard Knocks are either nominated by an alumnus or present their credentials to the president. A membership committee then decides who will be accepted. There is a one-time charge, and in Comstock’s day the annual membership fee included a subscription to his West Virginia Hillbilly newspaper, where the success stories of the new graduates were printed. New members share their stories with alumni during the annual commencement weekend that takes place about the first of June on the campus of Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi.

Written by Amy Donaldson Arnold