Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mount logo through the ages

The new university logo.
ON JANUARY 1, 2015, the Mount became Mount Saint Mary's University and, among other changes, retired its logo of the last 20 years. The new logo incorporates themes from some earlier symbols, which we'll explore below.

Prominent in the new logo is a shield - or is it a book?  The top of the book has pages, or are they petals of a lily?

The ambiguities are intentional, inviting us in to think and reflect. But embedded in the suggestions of images are some real symbols from the original seal of the school.

The original 1931 seal.
This "formal" logo was created by Baker Heraldic of London in 1931 and will continue to be used on official documents like diplomas. The center of the logo is a quatrefoil of four shields, each enclosing a symbol representing some aspect of the Mount's foundations: the wings of the Our Lady of the Angels Archdiocese, the fleur de lis of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (see below), the "lily among thorns" of our namesake, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and last but not least, a book with the Mount motto, Deus Illuminatio Mea, God My Light.

At the top of the new logo is a bird, which in animated versions takes flight. Watch this:

Some people will see represented the aspirations of our students, the hopes and dreams of generations of Mount graduates taking flight. Christians will see the Holy Spirit emerging from the sacred texts.

The 1966 dove logo.
The dove is making a return to the Mount's iconography. In 1966, the college commissioned a new logo to replace the image that had been used for decades, Mary Chapel. With two campuses as of 1962, the iconic tower no longer represented the whole Mount, and so Mitsuru Kataoka of the Art Department faculty created something more inclusive.

A View article in the fall of 1966 explained the change. Note the other subtleties that sound familiar today:
This fall, the Mount adopted a new logo, replacing the long-familiar chapel tower. The logo, in the form of a bird with wings extended, symbolized the spirit of the Mount in an artistic and poetic form. Spirit immediately suggests soaring wings, unfettered, pointing upward and forward. The designer, Mr. Mitsuru Kataoka, an art faculty member, explained that one wing points toward the past with its heritage and the other sweeps to the future. The discerning eye may also recognize tongues of flame symbolizing the Spirit of the Word; another may detect elements of the fleur-de-lis, reminiscent of the French origin of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
In some versions, the College Seal was incorporated.

The first stylized M, 1993.
The next major change was the familiar script M that has prevailed until now. Originally created for the Admissions Department in 1993, the ribbon-like calligraphy in black and brown was adapted for college-wide use  in 1995.

The improved version, 2004.
The logo was overhauled in 2004 to incorporate the word "Mount" into a more direct manner; the announcement of the change noted that people often overlooked the word Mount altogether and "confused the Mount with 'that other college' in the Bay Area," (St. Mary's in Moraga). The historic college colors of purple and gold (dating to the 1920s) were incorporated into the new one.

That brings us to January, 2015 - a new name, a new logo, and exciting year ahead of rebranding the new university. And the seal is getting a face lift, too,  "college" becomes "university" and "St." is de-abbreviated to Saint.

For those of us accustomed to typing the name every day, remembering to write "Saint" instead of "St." is probably the biggest challenge of all.
Seal of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet,

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