Home Opinion Op-Ed Columns Institutional motto, PVMG and SLOs

Institutional motto, PVMG and SLOs

TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

Part 2 – Mottos in Latin
UNIVERSITIES have their respective mottos expressed in English while a great number of these mottos are in Latin. Last week, we defined what mottos are, quoting Joseph Gora that the motto is “a wonderful window to the university’s soul.” <https://eric.ed gov/ ?id=EJ877050> As a maxim, a motto takes the form of a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. It briefly expresses a university’s belief, view or outlook regarding fundamental principles that would guide its polices and practices. As such, the university’s philosophy, vision, mission and goals (PVMG) enunciate the institution’s motto in its policies and practices, including in student learning outcomes (SLOs).

Why mottos are expressed in Latin. In its traditional form, a motto is usually expressed in Latin. Expressed in this language, it has the force and the power “to express ideas with a punch, much like an epigram.” An epigram expresses an idea forcefully, often in a “clever and amusing and memorable way.” <https://examples.yourdictionary.com › examples-of-epigrams> Universities all over the world, especially in the US and in Europe, express their mottos in Latin. These mottos are from the Holy Book and a few from ancient scripts. In expressing in Latin what a particular educational institution stands for, universities reflect their origin “in medieval institutions which stress the prominence of Latin.” “Latin was the language of scholarship, of law and of nobility for thousands of years. It is still the language of the church. It is used in various fields to this day.”

Presence of mottos in policy and practice. It would be interesting to study how a motto is chosen. If the university is privately owned, would the motto reflect the founders’ values, or the values of a university’s locale? What would have been the force or influence that led to the choice of a motto? Another facet to study would be the presence of what the motto means in policy and practice of a university. Does a university’s motto permeate its curriculum, in the pedagogy used, in student learning outcomes, in extra-curricular activities, extension or civic engagement or service learning? Have university constituents imbibed what the motto stands for, apply or embed it where it is most applicable?

University mottos in parts of the world. Mottos in Latin are more often in the US and in European universities. Wikipedia lists mottos of universities and colleges all over the world. We choose some examples herewith, especially those that are not very common. US universities which express for whom is education includes that of Trinity College’s Pro ecclesia et patria (For church and country) and Tulane University’s Non sibi, sed suis (Not for herself, but for her own). Expressing higher education’s goal is that of New York University’s Perstare et praestare (To preserve and to surpass), and that of the University of Chicago’s Crescat scientia, vita excolatur (Let knowledge increase, let life be perfected). Fordham University stresses the wise use of knowledge in its motto Sapientia et doctrina (Wisdom and knowledge). The Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology has its motto, Mens Agitat Mole, (The mind moves matter) — such rich implications of what feats our minds can do.


Asia, Australia, South America, Africa, Europe. Universities in Asia expressing their motto in Latin finds an example in South Korea’s Keio University’s Calamus gladio fortior (The pen is mightier than the sword) and Sogang University’s Obedire Veritati (Obey the Truth). There is, too, Taiwan’s Fu Jen Catholic University’s Veritas, Bonitas, Pulchritudo, Sanctitas (Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Sanctity); and Thailand’s Silpakorn University’s Ars longa, Vita brevis. (Art is long, life is short). Deep down under Australia’s University of Sydney has Sidere mens eadem mutato (The constellations change, [but] the mind [remains] the same). South America’s Brazil has Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro with its Alis grave nil (Nothing is too heavy for those who have wings). South Africa’s Stellenbosch University’s Pectora roborant cultus recti (Sound learning strengthens the spirit). In Europe, there’s France’s Académie de Bordeaux’s Crescam et lucebo (I shall grow and I shall shine.); Germany’s University of Göttingen’s In publica commode (For the good of all); Italy’s University of Bologna’s Alma mater studiorum (Nourishing mother of the studies); Spain’s Complutense University’s Libertas perfundet omnia luce (Freedom pours light around.); the UK’s University of Cambridge’s Hinc lucem et pocula sacra (From here, light and sacred draughts); Romania’s Babe-Bolyai University’s Traditio nostra unacum Europae virtutibus splendet (Our tradition glows together with the virtues of Europe); Russia’s St. Petersburg State University’s Hic tuta perennate (Here we stay in peace). <https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › List_of_university_ and_college_mottos>

Philippine university mottos in Latin. These include University of Santo Tomas’ Veritas in Caritate (Truth in Charity); San Beda University’s Fides, Scientia, Virtus (Faith, Knowledge, Virtue); University of San Carlos’ Scientia, Virtus, Devotio (Knowledge, Virtues and Devotion); University of San Jose-Recolletos’ Caritas et Scientia (Love and Knowledge); Silliman University’s Via, Veritas, Vita (The Way, The Truth, The Life); Liceo de Cagayan University’s Nil Sine Numine (Nothing without Divine Will); Ateneo de Manila University’s Lux in Domino (Light in the Lord); Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan’s Veritas Liberabit Vos (The Truth Shall Set You Free); Ateneo de Davao University’s Fortes in Fide (Strong in Faith); Ateneo de Naga’s Primum Regnum Dei (First, the Kingdom of God); Ateneo de Zamboanga’s Pro Deo et Patria (For God and Country); and Ateneo de Iloilo’s Omnibus Amare et Servire Domino (In All Things, Love and Serve the Lord).

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