When Charles Dabney became UC’s president in 1904, he was intent on making the University of Cincinnati a true partner with the City of Cincinnati, not only through its longstanding educational and economic ties, but through an acknowledgement of a shared heritage as well. To that end, Dabney set about establishing a formal crest that would signify the University’s importance in higher education, and, reflect its status as a municipal institution. The city’s corporate seal was authorized in 1819, which incidentally was the year that UC’s ancestor, the Cincinnati College, was founded. Borrowing that seal which carried the scales of justice, the sword of authority and power entwined by serpents of wisdom, along with the winged rod of commerce, the University kept the city’s motto of “Juncta Juvant” (“strength in unity”) and added to it another motto, “Alta Petit” (“she seeks the heights”). The words “University of Cincinnati,” a wreath of oak leaves for learning, and the founding date of 1870 were also included, though a few decades later the date was amended to “1819” to recognize the Cincinnati College when it was fully absorbed by the University of Cincinnati in 1918. This official crest was adopted on September 24, 1906. Over the years, the insignia, along with some variations, have been incorporated into the campus architecture and in various buildings throughout the city, establishing a tangible symbol of the University of Cincinnati and its mission.
- Adapted from Kevin Grace’s essay on the University seal that appears in The University of Cincinnati. Architectural Transformation: Tradition and Innovation by Robert Flischel, Jayne Merkel, and Kevin Grace (Cincinnati, OH: RAF Press, 2007). This volume of Flischel’s University of Cincinnati photographs includes his images of the seal across campus, in the Powel Crosley mansion, and in the Western Hills High School library. To view all of Robert Flischel’s remarkable UC photographs, please see copies of the book that are available in the Archives & Rare Books Library, Langsam Library, and DAAP Library. The call number is TR659.F65 2007.