The University Seal made its entrance into the life of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1966, and today it remains the official symbol of the university and the values it upholds. Designed by art professor Kenneth Campbell, the seal prominently features the Council Oak tree and the word “Excellence.” Learn more below about the meaning behind these important elements depicted on the University Seal.
The Council Oak stands as a symbol of UW-Eau Claire’s commitment to serving as a place of meeting and exchange. The symbolism originated with the first Council Oak, a majestic tree that stood where the Ojibwe and Dakota nations as well as other nations, including the Ho-Chunk, Menominee and Potawatomi, met to share knowledge and discuss peaceful resolutions to their differences. The current Council Oak was planted and dedicated in 1990 by elders from the Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk nations after the original Council Oak, which had been damaged by lightning in 1966, fell in a windstorm in 1987.
The Council Oak remains a sacred place and is recognized by UW-Eau Claire as a symbol of the ancestral and sacred lands of Indigenous Peoples, past and present. We acknowledge that the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire occupies the sacred and ancestral lands of Indigenous Peoples. We honor the land of the Ojibwe and Dakota Nations.
In 1966, President Leonard Haas punctuated a jubilee celebration by asking academic departments to name students and faculty worthy of receiving “excellence” awards. He called for a medallion to be created as high recognition for each recipient. Haas did not attempt to define the word or the criteria. It was his belief that faculty could appreciate “doing the best you can with the talent you have and with the resources you have available” in and out of the classroom. For students, excellence meant “challenging themselves academically and as future leaders.” The resulting medallion was embraced by the university as its seal.
Source: Building Excellence by Oberly and Gough.