January is an auspicious month in the history of official emblems for the University of Chicago. The Board of Trustees adopted the University motto,”Crescat scientia, vita excolatur,” which appears on the coat of arms, on January 17, 1911, and the Seal of the University on January 30, 1912, making these emblems 101 and 100 years old this month, respectively.
The design of the University’s Seal represents a modification of the University of Chicago Coat of Arms, which was designed by Pierre de Chaignon la Rose, a Boston heraldic specialist. Pierre de Chaignon la Rose designed coats-of-arms for a number of other academic institutions, including Notre Dame, Rice, Duquesne, Catholic University of America, and the Harvard Medical School.
The Board of Trustees Minutes, housed in the Special Collections Research Center, can be consulted to read the exact language documenting approval of both the motto and seal. The University maintains a web page on University Emblems with examples of both the coat of arms and the Seal, along with a detailed history of their design and evolution.