Alma mater is a compound noun that refers to a school, college, or university that someone previously graduated from. In some cases, it may be used for a school’s song. When referring to the song, it is capitalized Alma Mater, as any song title would be. It is the same if it is the name of an actual college, statue, or other work.
In some instances when alma mater acts as a pronoun, taking the place of a specific college or university name, it is capitalized. But when used generally, it should be lowercase.
In Latin it literally means generous or bountiful mother.
As with most words borrowed from Latin, there is the traditional Latin plural and the English version. The Latin plural for alma mater is almae matres. The English plural is alma maters. Not surprisingly, the English version is vastly preferred.
Corey Crume has stepped down as the football coach at Southern to take the same position at Marion County, his alma mater. [USA Today HSS]
Holman was approved as the new football coach at his alma mater, Randolph High School, at a school board meeting on Tuesday night. [Daily Record]
All three of his alma maters have honored him for his work in education. In 2013, he received The Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State for his support of the university and his role in bridging the gap between Widener and the city of Chester. [San Diego Metro]
Now the two NBA players have taken to Twitter in defense of their alma maters ahead of tonight’s game between Michigan State and Michigan in Ann Arbor. [Detroit Free Press]
Universities have been adept at recruiting a growing number of full-fee paying students from overseas and are increasingly turning to graduates to support their almae matres. [Herald Scotland]
Some people have good reasons for avoiding their almae matres. [The Independent]