Academic Ceremony History and Archives

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SMU Motto

Veritas Liberabit Vos

The SMU motto, Veritas Liberabit Vos, translated from Latin as “The truth will make you free.” President Hyer, SMU’s first president, selected the phrase and it was approved by the Board on March 29, 1912. The motto has been a featured element in the Second Century Centennial Celebration.

The SMU Motto is featured in several prominent locations on campus; it has also been incorporated into some the university’s symbols of tradition:

The Official SMU Seal

The official university seal, which features Dallas Hall, is a significant element in the University's historic identity. The seal is used extensively in Academic Ceremony programs and is also used on academic documents.

An original casting of the seal is located in the Rotunda of Dallas Hall. A replica of the original seal casting is displayed in the lobby of the Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building.

Howard Lantern

The Howard Lantern is dedicated to Professor Lorn Lambier Howard, Chief Marshal Emeritus of SMU from 1978-1987, in honor of his role in shaping the traditions and protocol of SMU's modern-day academic ceremonies. Designed in 2008 and crafted out of steel, aluminum and water glass, the lantern symbolizes the Rotunda of Dallas Hall, the University's oldest building and centerpiece of our campus. Engraved around the top band is the University's motto, “veritas liberabit vos,” which means “the truth will make you free.” Around the base are the words to Varsity, SMU's alma mater.

Each year during the May Baccalaureate Service this lantern is handed down by the Senior Class President to a representative of the Junior Class, a symbolic passing of the light that sustains our University. The Howard Lantern serves as a reminder of the important traditions which make up our corporate University life and of the light of learning and intellectual curiosity which shines within the students, faculty and staff here at SMU.

Gail O. and R. Gerald Turner Pavilion

The Gail O. and R. Gerald Turner Pavilion, located on the R. Gerald Turner Centennial Quadrangle, is a place where the university community can gather. Inside the pavilion you can see the night sky as it was the night SMU was founded, encircled by the SMU Motto - Veritas Liberabit Vos.

President R. Gerald Turner on the SMU Motto

“This statement has been so often quoted over the centuries not only because of its source, but also because in just a few words it succinctly ties together two of the great concepts of human existence: Truth and Freedom. In fact, the statement takes the primary goal of educational pursuits (Truth) and makes it the antecedent of one of the major drives within the human heart: “Freedom.” Thomas Jefferson used the synonym “Liberty,” and called it an “unalienable right” from God in our Declaration of Independence.”  

Future Ceremony Dates

2014-2015 Events


Opening Convocation
Sunday, August 24, 2014
5:30 p.m.

December Commencement 
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Moody Coliseum
10:00 a.m.

Honors Convocation
Monday, April 13, 2015
McFarlin Auditorium
5:30 p.m.

Baccalaureate Service
Friday, May 15, 2015
McFarlin Auditorium
8:00 p.m.

May Commencement 
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Moody Coliseum