By Brian Clark, Washington State Magazine

That Cisco phone sitting on your desk has secret powers, and Randy Cross wants you to know how to tap into them.

Cisco phones with graphic displays can be customized to show the Cougar head logo, Cross, “the VoIP guy,” says.

Many people know that they can change the background wallpaper on their Cisco phones when they were first installed. But, Cross says, they don’t realize that since then a bunch of custom Cougar spirit graphics have been added.

Users of display phones can access the spirit wallpapers by pressing the Settings button (the one with the “gear” icon) and then selecting Wallpaper. Cross says be sure to scroll down, as depending on your exact model phone, the spirit wallpapers may be towards the bottom of a long list of options.

Any Cisco phone can have its ringtone customized, too. Cross created ringtone versions of the Cougar Fight Song and of Glenn Johnson saying “Another Cougar First Down!” To change your ringtone and get your growl on, just access Preferences by pressing the Settings button and then navigating to Ringtone from there.

For Cross, creating custom spirit graphics was a logical progression that grew out of his career in the U.S. Army, from which he retired before joining WSU. “It’s a unit-pride thing,” he says. “You’ve got to have something to rally around.”

Another tip Cross wants folks to know about it is Lots of people use Single Inbox Messaging, which sends voicemail to your WSU email inbox. After logging in at, you’ll find ways of managing your voicemail without having to use either your phone or your email.

If you’re unsure if your phone can be customized, or on how to customize it, you’ve got options. First, visit and click “Equipment Options.” There you’ll find a wealth of information and user manuals for Cisco phones, including the one on your desk. Alternatively, Cross, our very own Cisco Kid, is happy to help via an ITS service request.

Most of the Cisco phones that can be customized are on the Pullman campus, with a few in county WSU Extension offices.

While customizing your phone is no cause for magical thinking, what if everyone who can changes their wallpaper and ringtone to one of the Cougar spirit options? With more than 6,000 phones at WSU Pullman, that’s a lot of Cougar pride. Who knows what bowl game lurks in the depths of a spirited phone system?