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The George Washington University (U.S.)

District of Columbia

Last modified: 2022-10-08 by rick wyatt
Keywords: george washington | university | district of columbia | university | united states | columbian college |
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[George Washington University flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 25 May 2009

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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.

Sources on history of flag and seal:

Joe McMillan, 9 January 2004

The flag flies in at least two places on campus, officially in front of the University's administrative building, Rice Hall on I Street, and in the University Yard.
Joe Bondi, 15 May 2009

Photo of flag archived here.
Dave Fowler, 11 September 2022


[George Washington University burgee] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 25 May 2009

I am the advisor to the sailing team and recently have overseen the development of the team's official burgee, based on the University flag.
Joe Bondi, 15 May 2009


[Seal of George Washington University] image located by Paul Bassinson, 26 February 2017


[Seal of Clark University] image located by Dave Fowler, 11 September 2022