Written by Marshall Ervine

Most of us are familiar with the University of Richmond (UR) checkerboard shield logo which is used on official University publications, signage, advertising, spirit, and other applications. This distinctive logo ensures a consistency of the UR brand and name recognition as the University continues to enhance its reputation among leading institutions of higher education.

The basic shield logo was developed in 1990 as the result of work by the communications design firm F.E. Worthington Inc. and the University’s Marketing Strategy Committee. Company representatives visited the campus to gain a better understanding of UR, interviewed members of various groups within the University community, and conducted a visual inventory of UR’s unique buildings and campus. The shield is a graphic representation of their findings.

Each part of the logo has meaning that is unique to UR. The overall shield shape connotes tradition. Inspired by the University’s Gothic architecture which original UR architect Ralph Adams Cram described as “emanative of the highest human aspirations,” the shield evokes images of the Middle Ages as well as high standards and lofty ideals. The shield also can be interpreted as an inverted arch. Arches are a highly visible architectural detail on University buildings.

The checkerboard pattern in the bottom of the shield is an architectural detail found on several University buildings—North Court, Puryear Hall, Thomas Hall, even the Power Plant. Maryland Hall, which houses the President’s office, has a series of arches running across the front of the building, each filled with the brick-red and white checkerboard pattern identical to that on the shield.

In 2000, consideration was given to replacing the shield logo. Several designs were evaluated, but there was no consensus for a change.

The original shield logo had “Richmond” on the shield with “University of Richmond, Founded 1830” under it. In 2005, “University of” was added to the shield, and “University of Richmond, Founded in 1830” was removed. This update was made to eliminate duplication and to modernize the look.

Today, the shield logo is a widely recognized symbol of the University of Richmond, and it projects the image of UR’s excellence in higher education.

Special thanks to Samantha Tannich, Director of Design and Collegiate Licensing, for providing information on the development of the UR logo.