This is the official seal of the University of Rochester (the corporation). It is the emblem of authenticity. The seal has limited use. It is used for events and materials of an official or ceremonial nature by the president and the Board of Trustees.
Before 1986, the seal was commonly used as the University’s logo and graphic identity. In 1986, the University adopted a “logotype” to be used on letterheads and on other materials. In 2007, a new logo and branding system was devised for use on all materials.
Official Seal History
1850, American half dollar (1851–1852)
In one form or another, there has been an official seal since the earliest days of the University’s history. On March 8, 1851, the executive board adopted the Seated Liberty side of the American half dollar “ as corporate seal of the university, till permanent seal is procured.”
Original University of Rochester seal (1852–1928)
Asahel Clark Kendrick, one of our earliest professors who served from 1850 to 1888, is said to have suggested Meliora to be the motto of the University. On May 15, 1851, the faculty voted “to recommend to the board the adoption of the word Meliora as the motto for the seal of the University, the device to be a hand pointing forward and upward.” But not until April 9, 1852, did the executive board formally adopt the seal shown to the left.
“Revised” seal (1928–1986)
In 1928, the seal was revised to better represent the expansion of the “Greater University.” The new design (by Philipp Merz of the Gordon and Kaelber firm) took the form of a shield encircled with the inscription, “Seal of the University of Rochester.” A bar across the shield bore the University motto, “MELIORA.” Two medallions above the bar represented arts and sciences on the left and music on the right, and the medallion below the bar represented medicine. The date was changed from 1851 (the year the original seal was created) to the University’s founding date of 1850.
The “New and improved” seal (1986–present)
The seal was revised yet again to have the “MEDI-CINA” medallion contain a true representation of the staff of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine and healing, which only has one snake entwined around the staff. The order of the words around the perimeter of the seal was changed from “SEAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER” to “UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER OFFICIAL SEAL” to center the word “ROCHESTER” prominently at the top.