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McMurtry crest design draws on symbolism, college culture

By Tina Ou     2/3/11 6:00pm

McMurtry College's crest committee unveiled its final crest design Tuesday during the college's town hall meeting. The crest design, which prominently features a Scottish and Celtic theme, includes symbols such as swords, a conch shell and a "lion rampant."The crest committee consisted of McMurtry seniors David Sorge and Julia Botev, sophomore Anna Handelman and freshman Colby Sieber. Sorge said the crest committee was commissioned by the McMurtry McMinistry at the beginning of the fall semester. He said that, while Botev, Handelman and Sieber formed the more artistic part of the committee, with Sieber being the main graphic artist, he considered his role as more involved with background research of heraldry and creating a timeline for completion of the crest.

According to Sorge, during the fall semester, the committee put up a survey about the crest for McMurtry students, to which 119 students responded. Questions regarded animals, shapes, culture and personality traits that the students related to the college.

"We tried to build a palette of different things that would go well with the crest," Sorge said. "The lion and the saltire were some of the first items to go on the palette."

Sorge said the committee had decided on a more traditional take on the crest after discussing whether to use a modernist or conservative design.

McMurtry Master Dereth Phillips said the committee put a lot of effort into researching crest designs to decide which elements to use for the crest.

"The committee was very thorough about researching the history of iconography," Phillips said. "What they wanted was a traditional crest, because they wanted a representation of the history already behind the McMurtry name."

Sieber, who started a graphic design company while in high school, said the committee tried to design a crest that included elements everyone liked. He said the individual members of the committee designed the crest over winter break and posted the designs in the commons so that students could write their own comments and criticisms about the designs.

Sorge said several elements in the crest were transferred from the temporary crest used during O?Week. He said the finalized crest has a strong Scottish theme to fit with the McMurtry family's Scottish heritage. Scottish elements of the crest include the saltire - which he said also represents the Roman numeral 10 to symbolize McMurtry's standing as the 10th residential college - the font, the sword handles and the belt that encompasses the shield.

McMurtry senior Juliana Serrano said she liked the inclusion of the elements specific to the college.

"I really like the fierceness of the lion and the roundness of the crest that's similar to our commons," Serrano said. "I also really like the conch because it's representative of our history."

McMurtry freshman Joseph Vento said he has not heard many complaints about the crest. According to Vento, generally the people he has talked to like the design.

"I think that the crest symbolizes the elegance and the valor of the Murts," Vento said. "I especially like the belt as a symbol of our Scottish heritage and also the significance of the X in the background."

McMurtry junior Hannah Thalenberg said she approved of the crest committee's attempts to combine the McMurtrys' heritage with current traditions.

"I love how they've incorporated not only the history of the McMurtry family but also the history of our college so far," Thalenberg said. "The little things like the conch shell and the double meaning of the X - it's very aesthetically pleasing, and I'm excited to have this design for our college crest."

Sieber said he hopes the crest will accurately represent to future students what the McMurtry traditions are as well as accurately represent future students.

"I'm excited because I know that in the future, after I've graduated, I can look back at Rice and McMurtry and see something that I helped create and [that] will still be representing McMurtry years from now," Sieber said.

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