Great Seal Book Writing Contest

Write Your Way Into Miami History:
The Great Seal Writing Contest

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In 2014, Miami will open the Armstrong Student Center, a structure that literally builds on the past and will nurture Miami students into the future. In March 2013 President Hodge asked the Miami student body to mark this occasion by showcasing their writing in the Great Seal of Miami University in the new Bicentennial Rotunda. 

The Rotunda will house a replica of the Miami University Great Seal, measuring twelve feet across and set three feet down into the floor (see artist’s rendering below). The Great Seal includes three elements in a circle: an open book represents the accumulated wisdom of the centuries, passed on to the current generation through their reading. The globe symbolizes the present moment shared by all peoples, while the telescope points to the future yet to be discovered.


ASC_SealArtistRenderingPresident Hodge invited students to “write” the book that stands within the Great Seal. The book will hold a living collection of student writing, captured in contemporary time, but speaking both to our heritage and imagining our own legacy.

To contribute to this book, contests were asked to compose a response to the following question:

As they pass the Great Seal in the Bicentennial Rotunda of the Armstrong Student Center, future generations will look for wisdom and wit in your words. In your Miami experience, what wisdom have you gained from the University’s heritage that you would like to pass on? In other words, what values, beliefs, and experiences connect “Old Miami” and “New Miami”?

Length: 1809 words or less
Submission deadline: April 2, 2013
Contest open to: Miami undergraduate students, all campuses

  • Grand Prize: $2,000 cash + the winning essay will be printed on the open page in the book
  • $1,000 for best essay for each of the other three classes (first year through senior)
  • Other submissions will make up the remaining pages of the book 


Twelve finalists (3 from each class) were selected by a committee of Miami faculty, staff, and students (with all names and identifying information removed so that selection was completely anonymous). Top essays from each class were voted on from among the finalists (also on an anonymous basis) by Miami students the week of April 26, 2013, and the Grand Prize winner was selected by the awards committee from among the 12 finalists.

The Next Steps: Now that the winners have been selected, the Great Seal Book will be produced–entirely by Miami students. Two students from the Architecture and Interior Design Department, Sophia and Madelyn Delgado, were selected to create the artwork for the book after a competitive process, and students from Miami’s Paper Science and Engineering Foundation will make the paper for the book. The Great Seal Book will be unveiled at the Armstrong Student Center grand opening in Spring, 2014, and commemorative versions of the book will be available to the Miami community at that time.

On behalf of the Office of the President, the Howe Writing Center, and all those involved with the creation of the Great Seal Book, we thank Miami students who submitted and all those who voted for your favorite entry for helping to write a part of Miami history.

Please direct questions and requests for more information to Lisa Blankenship, Associate Director, Howe Writing Center.