UVM commissions new replica of seal to replace one commissioned by eugenicist



President Suresh Garimella speaks at convocation, Aug. 25. The University seal hangs on the podium and is projected on the curtain behind him.

Lilly Young, Cynic News Reporter

A new replica of UVM’s seal is set to replace the current one that was commissioned nearly 100 years ago by a leading Vermont eugenicist.

Gary Derr, vice president of executive operations, is in the process of creating a new seal. It will replace the seal commissioned by Vermont eugenicist Henry Perkins in 1924.

The new seal will be ready by spring semester, Derr said.

“I am having a seal made of the current image that we could use for ceremonial events,” Derr said.

UVM’s seal represents the values that UVM holds. The current seal is carved out of wood with images of the first building on campus and the sun coming up over the Green Mountains.

There is a diagram of the Pythagorean Theorem, a quadrant and a globe underneath the building. The University’s motto, “for studies and other honest pursuits,” is written in Latin on the seal.

Perkins was president of the American Eugenics Society from 1931-34, as well as a professor of zoology at UVM from 1902-45. He was the director of the Eugenics Survey of Vermont from 1925-36, according to UVM’s website.

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, eugenics is the movement devoted to improving the human species through the control of hereditary factors in mating.

The seal that was commissioned by Perkins and built by Geno B. Lucarini was used at the installation of UVM President Suresh Garimella and is traditionally used at commencement and convocation. However, it was not used at convocation this year.

“The object that Perkins commissioned was a representation of the seal that was the official seal of the University at that time, prior to 1975, when the board of trustees made additional modifications to the seal,” UVM spokesperson Enrique Corredera said.

Perkins did not help to create the image of the seal. He only had someone build an object that was a replica of the seal at that time, Corredera said.

“It’s old. It’s almost 100 years old, and it’s fragile,” Derr said. “I’m not a wood expert, but pieces have broken off.”

The image of the seal was created in 1807 and was modified in 1971 to add “the College of Agriculture” written in Latin, said Chris Burns, a special collections librarian.

Derr said that he is unsure where the replica of the seal commissioned by Perkins will be kept on campus.