Friday, May 19, 2017

A New Coat of Arms at Yale University

Just over a year ago, Yale University’s Calhoun College was renamed Grace Hopper College, in honor of Grace Murray Hopper, a Yale alumnus, trailblazing computer scientist, and Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. Yesterday, May 18, 2017, Yale unveiled the newly-designed coat of arms for Grace Hopper College.

The arms are blazoned: Azure semy of plates and billets argent a dolphin embowed or on a chief argent a fess engrailed sable.

Various elements of the arms refer to Rear Admiral Hopper's work in computers (billets and plates looking very much like ones and zeroes), and the dolphin, of course, to her service in the Navy. The blue color of the shield links both to Yale University and to the U.S. Navy. The fess engrailed on the chief is evocative both of waves on the sea and of the Calhoun (the original name of the College) coat of arms, which contain a saltire engrailed.

Three Yale alumni worked to create the coat of arms: John Gambell, University Printer, the person responsible for Yale's visual identity, led the project; Stephen Scher, an art historian with "an extensive knowledge of heraldry"; and Jonathan Corum produced the final artwork. (I do think that the arms are far better than we usually see designed for American educational institutions.)

Additional background can be found in two articles, one on the Yale University website at and the other on the website of the University's newspaper, Yale News, at

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