From the Editors: What Does the Brown University Seal Mean Anyway?


Hello Everyone!

My name is Emily Schell and I’m the editor of this year’s Bruin Club Blog! You might remember me from my work with the “Fresh View” column last year, or maybe you just remember my bad jokes wonderful, enlightening statements… That said, this year I’m a sophomore, still writing for the Bruin Club (with just a little more responsibility), and still very happy to introduce you to the amazing institution that is Brown University! Throughout the year, I’ll be posting about cool things I see happening on campus, my take on certain comings-and-goings at Brown, or whatever else I feel like talking about! ☺

This week has been surprisingly busy for me – so I’ll apologize in advance for the shortness of my post! Take note, future Brown students: even when your midterms officially end, that doesn’t mean its vacation time. Homework and “things-you-put off-because-of-midterms” still can keep you more busy than you might originally expect. With that being said, the topic of this week’s post of random-Brown-knowledge is uncovering the meaning behind the Brown University seal.

We’ve seen it on every piece of mail Brown has ever given us ever. The classic “crest” style college seal, split into four parts because apparently every student at Brown lives a quad-dimensional life (studying, social life, sleep…and…eating? Seems legit), with the little sun on top, which I personally love because it sets the Brown logo apart from just about every other college seal out there. However, when I was poking around the blog the other day to creep on some you fabulous peoples’ search terms (yes, you can actually see those, so next time you search “best nacho places” at Brown don’t think I won’t know), I actually saw a search for “brown university seal meaning.” At first I just brushed it off, but upon further thought, I realized that even I, a Brown University student, had no idea what a lot of the stuff on the seal ACTUALLY meant! So here I am, telling you all so that you can come to Brown with some cool extra knowledge to impress your mom friends!

Going from the “big” stuff, to the “small” stuff, here we go:

1.) “In Deo Speramus:” For all you Latin buffs out there, this should be pretty easy for you, but for those of you who aren’t, this means “In God We Hope” (oftentimes incorrectly translated as “In God We Trust”). “In Deo Speramus” is also the motto of Brown University, although I think most students would tend to agree that in reality it more goes like “In This Cup of Coffee We Hope” or “In Our Professor Being in a Good Mood We Hope.” However, the motto was created in 1765 and some traditions, like this one, just are worth keeping around.

2) The red cross in the middle of the crest: According to Encyclopedia Brunonia, the red cross is supposed to symbolize the cross of St. George. However, the Encyclopedia doesn’t go into much more detail than that – so it probably isn’t that important. It’s okay, I’m sure we all know would absolutely never know anything about attempting to explain a pretty superfluous decision with overly legitimate reasoning (right? right?)

3) The four books: Well, those I’d like to think are a little bit more obvious. They symbolize learning, because Brown is, after all, first and foremost an institution of higher learning. 🙂

4) The sun: This is my favorite part of the seal! As described by the Encyclopedia, which explains the meaning behind the sun far more eloquently than I could, “the rays of the sun [symbolize] learning piercing the clouds of ignorance.” I have to admit, Founders, this last touch really adds some zing to what otherwise might have fallen somewhat flat in terms of the college seal department. Brown University students pride themselves on being leaders in their communities, their state, and, even in some cases, the world. I personally love that our seal reflects this very special quality about the student body at Brown and would not change this part for anything else!

So there you have it- the seal summed up, for anyone who would like to know! If you want a more detailed explanation about the seal, the founding of Brown, or most anything about Brown in general, feel free to check out the Encyclopedia Brunonia (here: It is such a great wealth of Brown knowledge!

Did I hit what you wanted to know? Want a specific topic covered in the blog that hasn’t been covered yet? Need a person to rant to about the frustrations of the college application process? Feel free to shoot me an email at

Ever true to Brown,

Emily Schell


4 thoughts on “From the Editors: What Does the Brown University Seal Mean Anyway?

  1. Does Brown have a quidditch team? We’re visiting today and the inside of Sayles Hall looks exactly like the Hogwarts main hall.

    1. Brown doesn’t have an official Brown University Quidditch Team. However, we do have a Providence/University of Rhode Island team that we collaborate with, and many students from Brown participate on this team. We know Sayles looks a lot like Hogwarts – it’s no wonder Emma Watson liked it, right?

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