About the VCU Seal
The original faculty of the Medical Department of Hampden Sydney College used some of the traditional iconography of medicine as symbols of the school.
Diplomas, written in Latin, included the official seal in wax.
Embossed paper seals replaced the wax representations.
Since its first use in the fall of 1844, the Egyptian Building has served as a visual symbol of the school.
In 1893, a new medical school, the University College of Medicine, opened just two blocks from the Egyptian Building. That school's seal included a likeness of its founder, Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire. The University College of Medicine and the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) merged in 1913.
Dr. William T. Sanger, President of MCV from 1925-1956, created a logo for the medical school that incorporated an image of the Egyptian Building.
Later, the Board of Visitors changed the official seal of the school to incorporate the Egyptian Building and to include the Latin name of the institution around the perimeter.
The early seals for the Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) included a small version of the seal of the College of William and Mary to illustrate RPI's affiliation with Williamsburg school from 1925 until 1962.
Other versions of the Richmond Professional Institute seal established Richmond Professional Institute as an independent identity.
With the new university created from the merger of MCV and RPI came a new seal accepted by the VCU Board of Visitors on January 24, 1969.
This seal was used during the 1970s and 1980s.
During the 1990s up until recently, VCU has relied on a simple "wordmark" — in these and other variations — without a companion seal.
The MCV Campus has continued to use various logos and emblems featuring the Egyptian Building.
In the 2012-13 academic year, VCU begins using a new seal designed to reflect VCU's modernity while maintaining its historical significance.
The seal of a university is an emblem that is affixed to diplomas and official documents and, in some cases, rendered in stained glass and stone. Some seals vary little today from their early appearance at their schools' founding.
The story of the seal of Virginia Commonwealth University is as complex as is the institution’s history.
The university takes its founding date of 1838 from the year the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College began. In 1854, the medical department secured its own charter as the Medical College of Virginia (MCV). Four years later it became a state-affiliated institution. MCV history
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park Campus began in 1917 as the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health. In 1925, it became the Richmond division of the College of William and Mary; and in 1939, its name was changed to Richmond Professional Institute. It separated from William and Mary in 1962 to become an independent state institution.
In 1968, Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. signed VCU into existence, based on recommendations in a 1967 legislative commission report. MCV and RPI merged to become VCU.
University officials hired a New York marketing and design firm, Schechter and Luth Inc., to develop an identifying symbol for the new university that would unify the two former schools and emphasize the bold new character of VCU. The Board of Visitors approved the emblem in January 1969. The design of the symbol provoked some discussion. Some commentators thought it too abstract; others believed that the design should have been created by VCU's own outstanding art department rather than by an outside design agency. The design itself generated many interpretations. Some saw the tree of knowledge, others discerned the street pattern of the Fan District, and a few even claimed that it resembled a marijuana leaf. Some saw within the pattern a “V” for Virginia.
By the late 1990s, as branding and identity public relations programs for universities were becoming more sophisticated, the VCU symbol gradually became replaced with a contemporary wordmark that featured the letters "VCU" and the full name of the university. In addition to use of the simple wordmark, the School of Medicine and others on the MCV Campus used images of the vaunted Egyptian Building in logos and identity materials.
In 2011, President Michael Rao and his communications leadership team began exploring the need for a meaningful seal for VCU that would honor its rich past and help position it for the future as a unified, nationally competitive research university.
It was designed and developed by University Creative Services in consultation with Fuseideas, a branding company with expertise in higher education. The new seal is being unveiled for the 2012-13 academic year.
The new VCU seal consists of a circular band featuring the university’s name and year of its beginnings, 1838. The new design adopts as its central feature the columns and ancient bearing of VCU's Egyptian Building. The seal is in gold and black—colors adopted in 1968-69. “MCV” and “RPI” pay homage to VCU’s antecedents.
About the Egyptian Building
- Map and VCU information about the Egyptian Building
- Student journalism project on the building's importance to campus
- National Historic Landmark summary