Spirit Groups | The Varsity Walk | University Seal
"Pitt Magazine" September 2002 (pages 9-10)
The University seal is a variation on the coat of arms of William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, who served as British prime minister in the 18th century. During the French and Indian War, British soldiers seized Fort Duquesne and renamed it in Pitt's honor. When the nearby settlement called Pittsburgh became a city in 1816, it adopted Pitt's coat of arms. The three dots are gold coins, which denote the Pitt family's participation in the Crusades; the castle wall signifies the new city; and the checkerboard is blue and white, with the first color representing Pitt's status as an earl and the second representing purity, innocence, and gentleness in medieval heraldry.
Pitt's predecessor, Western University of Pennsylvania, adopted the seal in 1908, adding the Latin motto "Veritas et Virtus" ("Truth and Virtue"). In 1937, the seal was shelved only to reemerge as the Pitt logo in 1974, and has stayed with us ever since, though the design has been refined throughout the years.
The University of Pittsburgh has both a detailed and simplified seal. The detailed seal is approved for use on official documents (i.e. diplomas, awards, stationary, letterhead, etc.) and permanent University signage. The simplified seal is approved for use on licensable products.