Academic Customs

History and Traditions


The University of Saint Joseph shield combines the insignia of the Sisters of Mercy — the Cross and Crown — with the Coat of Arms of Saint Joseph. According to the medieval heralds, the Coat of Arms consisted of a blue field, upon which lay a silver carpenter’s square, that overlays three silver lilies. The carpenter’s square symbolizes Saint Joseph’s occupation and is also a symbol of accuracy and truth. The lilies symbolize integrity and indicate that Saint Joseph was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose purity is represented by the chaste white lily. Three flowers are used to represent the Blessed Trinity.  In the University shield, however, the center flower is replaced by the cross which, combined with the crown, represents the Sisters of Mercy under whose sponsorship the University was founded.



A gift from the University Alumni Association in 1984, the Presidential Medal depicts the shield, which is cast in gold. The chain supporting the medal was crafted by John Cavanaugh in celebration of the University’s 60th anniversary. 



The mace, which is carried in academic processions preceding the president., comes from the medieval period when it served as a formidable weapon to protect a dignitary taking office or opening court. From the 16th century in England, and since the colonial period in America, the mace has become a symbol of office carried by a distinguished member of the procession.

The University of Saint Joseph mace was crafted by John Cavanaugh in commemoration of the University’s 60th anniversary. The design is derived from the University’s educational goals: to assist the students in developing intellectual curiosity, a sense of integrity, and a commitment to service.

A mace is a symbol of authority. Since all authority has God as its source, the cross is the top element and is made with four arms and mounted on an orb to indicate universality. Below is a sphere, a “perfect” geometric figure, signifying integrity. The sphere is composed of seven bands, which represent three theological virtues — faith, hope, and charity — and the four moral virtues — prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. The virtues combined represent the essence of integrity. Within the sphere sits a quartz crystal, which is seen as multiple facets of the whole piece. The crystal signifies the search for truth as presented in facets of Total Truth. The virtues listed above find their expression in service symbolized by the band of hands around a disc element that serves to support the sphere. The mace is marked by the seals of the University of Saint Joseph and the State of Connecticut.

The mace is 36 inches long and weighs eight pounds. It is made of sterling silver, entirely hand wrought. The nodes are ebony. The cross is coated with 24K gold.


Work at USJ

Join our team.

Make a Gift

Make a lasting impact.

Mission and Values

View our mission statement and core values.



Meet Our Great Faculty

Explore the professors of USJ.