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George Washington University (U.S.)

Last modified: 2008-06-07 by
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[George Washington University flag] image by Joe McMillan



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Description of the flag

Founded as Columbian College in 1821; took on its present name in 1904. Although originally established as a Baptist institution with the main mission of training clergymen and missionaries, GWU has long since lost any noticeable denominational identity; it now operates as a non-sectarian private university with an  enrollment of about 15,000 students. The flag formerly flew outside the old university hospital--recently razed after the construction of a new building. It was also displayed inside the university's Lisner Auditorium, traditionally one of the main performing arts venues in Washington.

The flag--buff with a dark blue cross bearing the university seal on the center--was designed by Frederick D. Owen and officially displayed for the first time on 22 February 1905. Owen also designed the seal, which shows a shield bearing the bust of George Washington below a book inscribed with the first four verses of the Gospel of John in Greek. The shield is surrounded by the motto "Deus nobis fiducia," which is essentially a Latin translation of the U.S. national motto "In God we trust." Unfortunately, traditional symbols of the university have largely been displaced in recent years by advertising-agency style "wordmarks" and logos, so neither the seal nor the flag are very visible these days. (Note: Because of this, the image is a reconstruction of the flag from memory; it is possible that the seal should be placed in the upper hoist rather than in the center of the cross.)
Sources on history of flag and seal:
http://www.gwu.edu/gelman/archives/almanac/essays/firstwinterg.html
http://www.gwu.edu/~newsctr/newscenter/guide/1_tour/armsandseal.html

Joe McMillan, 9 January 2004

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