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 for only the most formal records, appearing on University diplomas, ceremonial and legal documents, corporate and regulatory filings, resolutions and uses deemed appropriate by the UT Board of Trustees, UT System president or UT Knoxville Chancellor.
The seal also may be used in situations calling for a permanent identifying mark for the University, such as architectural elements produced in stone, metal, glass, or other permanent materials. Requests for alternative uses (merchandise, etc.) must be approved by UT System Communications and Marketing.
Sizing and Printing
The seal should appear no smaller than three-quarters of an inch or 72 pixels in height. It should be surrounded by an amount of open space equal to half its width. The seal of the University is not the official UT logo. It is the only official seal for the University of Tennessee. It cannot be changed in any way.
The seal may be printed in black, 80% black, or foil stamped in silver, gold or black.
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 the University of Tennessee, 1794-1994, along with supplemental archival material found in the Office of the University Historian Collection held in University Archives.