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WMU adopts seal after gaining university status

Feb. 27, 2007

KALAMAZOO--In 1957, the year that Western Michigan University became a university, WMU art professor John Kemper made a sketch on the back of his faculty identification card that would eventually be adopted as the official seal of WMU.

The circular design by Kemper has remained the University's official mark for 50 years. It has four components:

  • Five stars that symbolize the main academic units in place when WMU gained university status--the schools of Applied Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies;
  • A tree, which signifies the University's continuing growth, while its roots acknowledge the institution's firm planting through its creation by the Michigan Legislature in 1903;
  • A stone arch that symbolizes a gateway to knowledge as well as solid growth, while the missing keystone indicates the University's growth is incomplete, with much more remaining to be accomplished and discovered; and
  • A pyramid, which stands for the building of knowledge and features a flame at its apex to signify enlightenment-WMU's true purpose.

Prior to the current design, four different seals represented the University under its various names. The first two emblems were circular and modeled on components of Michigan's state seal. The two subsequent seals were rectangular and featured depictions of campus buildings.

The University seal was altered for the 2003 Centennial to salute the institution's founding. The design played on the familiar look of the University seal but replaced the lower portion of the seal with an outline that represented Prospect Hill and the University's historic East Campus. The words "Centennial Celebration 1903-2003" completed the logo design. Once the centennial celebration ended, the University returned to the use of its 1957 seal design.

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WMU celebrates 50 years as state's fourth university
Grad education is hallmark of university status

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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