November 2009

The College Seal and Motto

I recently ran across two Blue Stocking articles detailing the history of the college seal, the familiar oval which contains the motto “Dum Vivimus Servimus” (“While we live, we serve”). Thinking this would be an interesting subject for our blog, I decided to do some further research. The articles trace the seal back to the 1915 Pac Sac. As usual, while the facts were partially correct, they were not totally accurate, which proves once again the value of going back to the source.

Apparently, the early classes at PC had their own colors, flowers, and mottoes. For instance, the class colors for 1911 were green and white; the flower was the white rose; the motto was “Wie die Arbeit, so der Lohn” (“As the work, so the reward”). The class of 1913’s motto was “Nihil nisi optimum” (“Nothing but the best is good enough.”). Eventually classes began to adopt seals which incorporated the motto, and these were then featured in the college yearbook. The first I could find was in the 1915 Pac Sac, when the seal looked like this:

Seal from 1915 Pac Sac
Seal from 1915 Pac Sac

The motto, “Veritas vos Liberabit” translates into “The truth will make you free.”

A version of our current seal, with the torch and scroll and a similar motto, first appeared in the 1916 (not 1915) Pac Sac. The motto was “Vivimus ut Serviamus” (“We Live to Serve”), which is very close to our current motto “Dum Vivimus Servimus” (“While we Live we Serve”).

Seal from 1916 Pac Sac

Seal from 1916 Pac Sac

The following year, however, while the seal retained the same background, the motto had changed again, to “Spectemur Agendo” (“Let us be judged by our acts”).

The seal as we know it today, with the same background and motto, first appeared in the 1918 Pac Sac:

Seal from 1918 Pac Sac

Seal from 1918 Pac Sac

Although I could find no information on when it was officially adopted, by 1922, it was in common use on commencement programs, and by 1928 it was appearing on the front of the college catalog. Some minor changes occurred over time. The rays of light radiating from the torch were eliminated very early, and around 1980 the shape became less oval and more squarish.