• The official seal of Carnegie Mellon University was created in 1967, when the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute. At the time of the merger, the name was hyphenated, so the seal must have been since modified. At the center is a stylized thistle, honoring the Scottish heritage of Andrew Carnegie, whose words
  • Tiffany & Co. designed the seal for the University of California in 1895. Seen here in blue and gold, the ribbon contains the university's motto
  • This logo defines the relationship between Cornell University's insignia and logotype. The insignia is an abstracted version of the original, which more fully displays elements of the coats of arms for the United States and New York State, as well as the university motto: I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study. Neither instance of the symbol appears on Cornell University diplomas, which instead display a seal containing a portrait of founder Ezra Cornell.
  • The outline for the logo of Bard College appears to be a vesica piscis, an ancient but rather uncommon shape. The surrounding Latin indicates that this is the seal of Bard College (1935), formerly St. Stephen's College (1860), while the crown may be related to its brief affiliation with Columbia University.
  • The Columbia University logo and its variations feature a crown, reflecting the fact that it was called King's College at its founding, changing its name after the US Revolutionary War. Columbia also has a shield as well as a rarely seen seal, which both contain the inscription
  • In 2012 the ten campuses of the University of California announced the new seal seen here on the right. After negative public feed, they quickly reverted to the original seal, illustrating the challenge of revoking a symbol for which alumni and others feel great affiliation.
  • Simon's Rock is an early college in western Massachusetts, the only such school to offer a four-year degree. The shape of its logo is a softened version of its home institution. Until recently, the college was named
  • Here is the logo of Bard College at Simon's Rock, when it was known as Simon's Rock College of Bard. Except for its shape, there is scant indication here of the college's affiliation to Bard.
  • The logo for the St. John's College with campuses in Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Fe, New Mexico features the alliterative motto
  • Johns Hopkins University recently streamlined their logo.  Compare this version to the more colorful but visually cluttered original, which also contains elements from the Maryland state flag, globe, book, and shield.
  • The striking academic seal of Johns Hopkins University contains a richly colored shield, framed by a neutral metallic or stone vesica piscis.
  • While the logo for many colleges contains a book, this unusual logo for Lake Forest College *is* a book. I must admit I don't remember seeing this when I taught a writing workshop there during the summer of 1997.
  • When I taught during the late 1990s at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, we adopted a logo that collided the words
  • When I arrived in 1995 to teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, this was the logo they were using. I captured this version via the Wayback Machine, buffering the image with the confidence of someone who acquired some basic design skills at the School.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago consists of both the museum and the school. The museum uses this logo, which reflects a conservative, conservationist nature. The logo for the school looks positively dynamic in comparison!
  • Here is the traditional logo for my beloved undergraduate alma mater, consisting of a shield featuring Ezra Cornell's words atop a circle. There is an oddly inconsistent three-dimensional character to the lettering as well as around the shield. For me the ragged outer border recalls parchment, while its irregularity calls to mind the imperfections of our mundane world. The motto is rendered unabashedly in native English, as befits an institution supported by the Morrill Land-Grant Act.
  • While I retain a sense of loyalty to the Art Institute of Chicago, I must admit that the RISD logo is much more dynamic and beautiful. The decorative scrolling is boldly asymmetric, stylistically evoking the musical G-clef.
  • One summer I worked in a solid-state synthetic research lab at Brown. (While many students wore brown shirts with the word
  • The MIT Media Lab supports a logo *system* -- every associated person there can have their own individual logo. The system is constructed on a 5x5 grid, on which three chosen points project in red, blue, and yellow towards small squares. This allows variation on a sufficiently identifiable theme.
  • The MIT seal and its variants contain images of people, which is rather unusual but befits the institute's focus on pragmatism. The MIT I.D. team states: The official Institute seal, adopted in 1863, pictures a scholar and a worker... [T]he symbolism isn't wholly positive. Research and mechanical arts are leaning on the same podium, but they have their backs to each other. It looks as if they're hanging out at the same water cooler more by accident than by intention or shared vision.
  • Abstract and rectilinear, the logo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology emphasizes the engineering qualities of
  • While I admire the inventiveness of the logo system created by the MIT Media Lab, its geometric sharpness and primary colors remind me of this logo for DeVry University, a for-profit educational institution. The effect here is jarring. It appears DeVry has realized this, because I am beginning to see this emblem appear exclusively in shades of blue.
  • TIL Kaplan University is the DBA name of the Iowa College Acquisition Corporation, which is owned by Kaplan, Inc., which is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company, which of course will soon be purchased by Amazon.com. The resemblance of this logo to the NYU flame does not seem accidental.
  • Compare this NYU logo to that of Kaplan University! This design is more elegant and attractive.
  • Here is the seal of NYU. The brevity of this name (I very rarely hear
  • At Colgate, the torch is a living symbol. It is the main feature on the university's seal, and every senior carries one aloft during graduation weekend for the annual torchlight ceremony.
  • The shield of the University of Chicago features a phoenix and a book containing the motto
  • The logo for the University of Phoenix, a for-profit educational institution with headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, appropriately features the mythological bird. While the university does not have any sports teams, the professional NFL Arizona Cardinals play in the University of Phoenix Stadium, which acquired that corporate name in 2006. Here we see some changes to the institution's logo, most obviously the facing of the bird's head.
  • Oxford, as one of the world's oldest institutions of higher learning, established now-familiar norms for university logos: name along the border, crowns, and a book with the school motto (in this case,
  • The Fordham University seal, like that of Oxford, is encircled by a belt. Unlike many other universities, Fordham has declined to simply this logo and instead embraces the rich array of symbols. We see a Coat of Arms of the Society of Jesus, a laurel crown, fiery tongues representing the Holy Spirit, fleurs-de-lys, and a historic list of academic fields. The seal contains three languages: Greek, Latin, and English.
  • TIL in the United Kingdom, armorial bearings require royal authorization. The University of Cambridge coat of arms, which I most often see on books published by the university's press, itself depicts a book. Rather unusually for university shields, the unclasped book is closed shut!
  • St Andrews is the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world, after Oxford and Cambridge. Its shield depicts a rampant lion, symbolic of England, but the blue and white field recall the Saint Andrew's Cross of its native Scotland. The form of the shield is curved in a form that was most common in the 14th century, which resonates with the founding of the university in the early 15th century.
  • One of my sisters is a proud graduate of Wellesley College, which has two Latin phrases on its seal.