Most American institutions of higher education employ more than one identifying device. Often, an institution will employ a logo for everyday branding and marketing purposes, and a seal or coat of arms for more formal occasions. Reinhardt University certainly fits this pattern: its logo, which dates from the early 2000s, consists of two lowercase letter “r”s, arranged back-to-back to resemble a Corinthian capital, supporting the date “1883.” Reinhardt’s seal, which dates from the 1940s, depicts a lamp of learning overlying an arrowhead, with “1883” written below. This device is encircled with a ring bearing the words “Reinhardt University Waleska, Ga.”
At one point the seal was Reinhardt’s primary identifying device. The advent of the logo, however, has relegated the seal to official functions only. The logo appears on business cards, letterhead, envelopes, marketing pamphlets, the university website, and other such places. The seal may be seen on the mace, the presidential medal, the school processional banners, diplomas, graduation and baccalaureate programs, and the like.
Problems with the Seal
Because the seal is not as prominent as it once was in Reinhardt’s iconography, it has largely escaped scrutiny. It is fairly simply and identifiable. Yet it also has flaws:
• Lamps of learning are generally associated with grade or high schools. (The standard device for identifying a university is a book, usually open.) Reinhardt ceased operating a high school in the 1950s, so the lamp of learning is no longer appropriate.
• The arrowhead is clearly a reference to the Cherokee Indians, and is also inappropriate. Reinhardt was not founded by or for the Cherokee, who were removed long before 1883. There is no reason for this symbol to exist on the Reinhardt seal.
• To have one charge overlying another is aesthetically unsatisfactory, especially when the objects are not in scale with each other.
A Proposed Solution – A Heraldic Coat of Arms
In the Anglophone world, universities have traditionally been identified by heraldic coats of arms. Heraldry is a symbol-system that has its origins in the professional mounted warriors of the twelfth century, but it quickly grew beyond its chivalric origins to identify corporate bodies as well. Coats of arms can reference a university’s founder, location, ideals, or other aspects of its identity in a beautiful and striking symbolic language. It would be easy for Reinhardt to adopt a coat of arms, and place it on its seal.
The coat of arms I propose may be described in the technical language of heraldry as:
Or on an eagle displayed Azure a Latin cross Or and on a chief Azure an open book Argent binding Or and bearing the words “ALL THE GOOD YOU CAN IN ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN” in letters Sable.
The shield is divided horizontally, with the top third being blue, and the bottom two thirds being gold. On the top blue third is an open book, with white pages and gold binding, with “ALL THE GOOD YOU CAN IN ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN” in black letters. On the gold two thirds below is a blue eagle with its wings outstretched, and a gold cross on its breast.
A sketch is below:
What Does It Mean?
• The university colors of blue and gold feature prominently.
• The eagle, primarily Reinhardt’s sports mascot, has a long and distinguished heraldic pedigree as well. It was the king of the birds in medieval bestiaries. It also references Christianity (being the symbol of St. John), the United States, and the German heritage of Capt. Reinhardt.
• The eagle bears a cross in honor of the University’s commitment to the Christian faith.
• The open book indicates that Reinhardt is a university and not a high school.
• The inscription, a suggestion of University chaplain Jordan Thrasher, is a modified quotation attributed to John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and serves as morally uplifting and challenging motto.
• That these charges are arranged in a heraldic coat of arms places Reinhardt in a tradition that includes the oldest and most prestigious academic institutions in the United States.
Implementation and Usage
I propose that this coat of arms replace the lamp-and-arrowhead device on the Reinhardt seal. It could be depicted in color, or in monochrome.
Changing Reinhardt’s seal would essentially be no different than changing its name from “College” to “University” – and would indeed be a belated aspect of that change. It will, however, be independent of any marketing efforts of the university – it will be a change for the ages.
Approval of the trustees will be required, and insofar as the seal exists as a corporate signature to emboss a design into paper, new matrices will need to be cast and the change registered legally.
On paper (diplomas, programs, etc.), it would be easy to produce graphic renditions of the new seal, and to employ them as necessary. Smaller versions of the seal may require the motto to be effaced.
Similarly, it would be easy for Balfour, which manufactures rings for the university and takes pride in its “handcraftsmanship,” to produce the new design on its products.
Producing new school banners with the new seal might be slightly more costly, but this need not be done right away.
In any venue, one could depict the full seal, or simply the coat of arms. Furthermore, the arms would make a handsome flag, which could be flown from one of the flagpoles in front of the Burgess Administration Building and other places.