History of the Seal of the
University of North Carolina at Asheville
The history of Seal of the
University of North Carolina at Asheville can be traced to 1936 when
Asheville-Biltmore Junior College became a part of the Asheville City school
system. As an agency of the city, Asheville-Biltmore adopted a modified version
of the city's seal as its own.
The city had adopted the
seal in 1916 after the Commissioner of Public Safety, D. Hiden Ramsey, called
for a competition to design a more artistic seal for Asheville. The call was
made to "the draftsmen and architects of the City for the best design." Harry
Sage, an engraver and designer at Arthur M. Field's Jewelry Store, submitted the
winning proposal. The City Board of Commissioners so favored his design that
Sage received a prize of twenty-five dollars, fifteen dollars more than the
The Sage design included
the name of the city and the dates of its founding (1797) and incorporation
(1883) encircling a center image which depicted Mount Pisgah, the tallest peak
in Buncombe County and the second tallest in North Carolina, and the small
adjacent range known as "the Rat," so-named because of its unique shape.
Inscribed above the mountains was the Latin phrase, Levo Oculos Meos In
Montes, a paraphrase of the original Hebrew verse which in English
translates, "I lift up my eyes unto the hills."
College altered Sage's seal only slightly. It retained the interior of the seal
but replaced the outer ring with the college's name and the year 1927, the date
of the institution's original founding as Buncombe County Junior College. The
institution's seal has been modified only slightly over the years to reflect
three names changes with the last being in 1969 when Asheville-Biltmore College
became the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Since the adoption of the
Seal, the University has moved its campus three times. Prophetically, it is
from the steps of the library named in honor of D. Hiden Ramsey, in the center
of the present campus, that one may today look south across the central
quadrangle to see in the distance the scene of Mount Pisgah and “the Rat”
exactly as depicted in Sage’s original design. The Seal today serves as the
official mark of University and is an element of the medallion worn by the
Chancellor at ceremonial University functions. It is symbolic of the
University’s unique historical link with its community and to the magnificent
and inspiring setting in which they reside.
Kevan D. Frazier, Ph.D.
Class of 1992
Edward. The University of North Carolina at Asheville: The First Sixty Years.
Asheville: The University of North Carolina, 1991.
Padelford, Ida. “History
of the Seal of Asheville.” Archived Files, Mayor’s Vault, City of Asheville,