The University Seal
The official seal of the University of Tennessee features images of an open book, globe, sextant, gear and laurels. The words “agriculture” and “commerce,” and images of a plow and riverboat, are elements of the seal of the State of Tennessee. The date, 1794, is the year Blount College—the University of Tennessee’s forerunner—was established in Knoxville.
The seal is not for general use. It is used only for formal and official communications, such as diplomas, certificates, legal documents and communications from the Board of Trustees or the UT President.
The seal should appear no smaller than three-quarters of an inch high. It should be surrounded on all sides by an amount of open space equal to half its width.
The seal should be rendered in solid black whenever possible. On a dark background, the seal may be reversed (seal in white). Visit the colors guide for more information on using campus-specific background colors.
The design or use of any other seal to represent the University of Tennessee System, or its campuses or units, is not permitted – with the exception of the Knoxville chancellor’s office.
Please connect with the System Office of Communications and Marketing with questions about utilizing the seal and to request high resolution files for production.
History of the UT Seal
1821-1823 – Board of Trustees minutes mention trustees authorizing procuring a seal but no evidence of adopting an official design
1869-1890 – unofficially adopted seals appear on university catalogs
1891 – The Board of Trustees first authorized and approved a seal design for use on official documents
1898 – On a motion from UT trustee Edward T. Sanford, the date on the seal changed from listing 1807 (when the name changed from Blount College to East Tennessee College) to 1794 (Blount College’s founding)
1961 – Board of Trustees approved a special color seal; trustees also acknowledged that their records “do not reveal any authoritative definition of the symbolism involved” on the seal but can determine where certain design elements came from, such as from the state of Tennessee’s official seal (according to Exhibit 70 in the Board of Trustees meeting minutes, November 10, 1961)
1968-1969 – Board of Trustees voted to change the seal to reflect newly established UT System, removing “Knoxville” from “The University of Tennessee”
1987 – while defining official guidelines for using official symbols and seals on university publications, the Latin motto ‘Veritatem cognoscetis, et veritas vos liberabit” is dropped from the seal and book and globe moved to its current location
Much of this information came from university historian Milton Klein’s book on the university’s history, Volunteer Moments: Vignettes of the History of theUniversity of Tennessee, 1794-1994, along with supplemental archival material found in the Office of the University Historian Collection held in University Archives.