Symbols of the University
The Great Seal
While Ezra Cornell spoke the words of Cornell University’s motto in his inaugural speech, it first appeared in writing on the original Great Seal, authorized by the Trustees in November 1866 and adopted as the corporate seal on October 6, 1868. The Seal first appeared on the cover of The Cornell University Register, 1868-69. The Seal always included the motto of the University. The University Bylaws mandate that:
The great seal of Cornell University shall be circular in form, two inches in diameter, and shall bear in the outer circle the words Cornell University and Founded A.D. 1865; and in the inner circle the words Ezra Cornell ‘I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study’ and in the center a profile likeness of Ezra Cornell.
The two-inch-diameter seal is affixed to or imprinted upon every diploma awarded by Cornell University.
A smaller, one-and-one-half inch diameter corporate seal does not include the motto, but in the outer circle the words Cornell University and Founded A.D. 1865, and in the center, above the words Ezra Cornell, a profile likeness of Ezra Cornell. This smaller seal can be used for all other official documents of the University requiring the use of a seal. The President of the University is the custodian of the Great Seal; the Secretary of the Corporation holds the corporate seal.
The Great Seal of Cornell University
The Great Seal, with profile likeness and famous words of Ezra Cornell, appears on every diploma awarded by the University.