Seal, Mace & Coat of Arms
GW’s seal, the University mace and our coat of arms serve as important visual symbols of the University’s heritage and prestige. In particular, they celebrate our connection to the vision, character and persona of George Washington.
The seal of The George Washington University is used to identify and endorse diplomas and other official documents. The two-inch-diameter seal bears an image of George Washington based on a well-known painting by Gilbert Stuart. An open Bible shows a verse from the gospel of St. John, in Greek. The seal is encircled with a double ring, in azure, carrying the words “the George Washington University, 1821.”
A mace, or staff, is carried by a dignitary at official events to mark the power and prestige of an institution. At Commencement and other GW ceremonies, our University marshal carries the University mace. It represents the standing of the University and the power of higher education as a force for good. The University mace was created by Harry Irving Gates, associate professor of sculpture, and was presented by the Faculty Women’s Club of The George Washington University. A profile of George Washington is displayed on the mace’s flanges.
The Coat of Arms
The Colonial Coat of Arms is a unique symbol of GW’s heritage. Great Britain’s York Herald of Arms presented it to the University at GW’s 1997 Commencement ceremony. The coat of arms shows George and Martha Washington holding a heraldic shield beneath a cupola that symbolizes Mount Vernon, Washington's home. The shield itself bears three stars and two stripes, emblems from the armorial bearings of Washington's family. Other elements, such as the brick walkway and roses, refer to more modern GW traditions.