DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Into the Archives > Arthur C. Becker: A founding dean and a fight song

Arthur C. Becker: A founding dean and a fight song

Man shows a group of women how to hold a baton
Arthur C. Becker, founding dean of the School of Music and composer of the university's fight song, instructs students to hold a baton properly while conducting music. (Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives)

This article is part of DePaul's 125th anniversary celebration, commemorating more than a century of engaging, diverse and global learning, service to the community, outstanding athletes, groundbreaking leaders and a strong commitment to the university's Vincentian mission.

"Let's start a music school."

In the early 1900s, Arthur C. Becker, one of the 125 Faces of DePaul, uttered those words to DePaul President Rev. Thomas P. Levan, C.M., after Becker found a piano in a university building's basement.

A few years later, in 1921, Becker's statement came to fruition. In a room at 2235 N. Sheffield Ave., DePaul launched the School of Music with 30 registered students, with Becker serving as the school's founding dean. Four faculty members taught classes, including voice, violin, organ and composition. By 1940, the program had grown to 350 students.

Headshot of Arthur C Becker
(Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives)

About Becker

Becker was born in 1895 in Louisville, Ky. One of the most prominent teachers and music arrangers in Chicago, he received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Sherwood Conservatory, and he studied in Paris under Marcel Dupré, one of the greatest organists of all time, and Albert Roussel, an outstanding French composer.

Becker dedicated his life to DePaul and music, serving as dean until his retirement in 1966. For five decades, he also directed the liturgical music at St. Vincent Catholic Church on DePaul's Lincoln Park Campus, performing monthly organ recitals that spanned a wide range of repertory. He died in 1976.

DePaul's fight song

Becker's legacy doesn't end with the School of Music; he also composed the university's fight song.

As intercollegiate sports became more popular in the 1930s, with on-campus pep rallies, games and matches growing in demand, Becker, alongside Leo Sullivan, wrote DePaul's original fight song, "Victory Song." Becker wrote the music and Sullivan the lyrics.

While there have been many updates of the song over the years, "Victory Song" continues to be DePaul's official fight song.

To learn more about Becker and the other 125 Faces of DePaul who have made a positive impact on the university and community, visit the 125th anniversary website.

Michelle Patrick is the manager of strategic communications initiatives for University Marketing and Communications.