But I would still argue that the mug's most important function and purpose is for coffee.
Coffee isn't something that is taken lightly around here at USU. Despite being here in Utah where coffee is not a permissible beverage for the predominant culture, coffee is the drink of choice for the art department. Last week a shipment of 120 lbs of freshly roasted coffee arrived after a long waiting period of drinking mediocre blends.
These people are serious coffee drinkers. Line blends have even been done to perfect the mix of beans. Line blending is a process that potters use to mix and test clay and glaze materials to find the correct ratio for a particular desired result. So it seems suiting that these potters would apply this particular process to their coffee to come up with the most desirable cup of coffee, wouldn't you think?
At the beginning of each semester the ceramics department puts out a call for its students and several adjunct coffee drinkers from the art building to pool their money for the big coffee order. Seeing that the grad studio kitchen can go through a pound of coffee a day, there is good reason to order in bulk.
Maybe it is the long hours that the ceramics students put in, or that they feel the need to put all those mugs to good use.