A University of Malta rebranding exercise has proved unexpectedly controversial after some academics took exception to the removal of the traditional motto from the institution’s official logo.

The new logo, unveiled to coincide with the start of the academic year this week, retains most of the classic elements in a more modern design, but does away with the motto “Ut Fructificemus Deo” (“We should bring forth fruit unto God”).

The university said in a statement: “The new logo seeks to satisfy all existing expectations of the original crest, but at the same time moves the brand identity forward in anticipation of further developments, especially in the areas of both research and teaching.”

The new university logo (centre) will not include the traditional motto (left), but the wording in Latin will be kept in the ceremonial crest (right).The new university logo (centre) will not include the traditional motto (left), but the wording in Latin will be kept in the ceremonial crest (right).

But John Berry, Head of the Department of Systematic Theology at the university, described the motto’s removal as “pitiful” and a “cancellation of memory” in a social media post that prompted a lively debate among academics, many of whom echoed his view.

“The reason I voiced my opinion is that I feel that not everything ‘traditional’ should be discarded in the name of progress,” Rev. Berry told the Times of Malta.

“Our academic ancestors deserve greater respect.”

He said that while he understood the need for the new logo and was in favour of using it, he felt the logo should have been retained, as it had served as an important invitation to the viewer to “recall or question the university’s tradition and history”.

“Those words, chosen by Sir Temi Zammit, represent an institutional ethos,” he said.

“As an academic I always ensure that, on the initial presentation slide, I include the traditional logo of our university. It has invariably aroused interest wherever I lectured or spoke at conferences abroad, among students, academics and dignitaries.”

When contacted, a university spokeswoman stressed that the Latin inscription remained part of the ceremonial crest, which is used by the Office of the Rector and on special occasions, such as graduation ceremonies, the opening of the academic year and Honoris Causa ceremonies. It also features on all degree certificates.

“Following the introduction of the new brand, this ceremonial crest has been further embellished and clearly shows the Latin inscription,” the spokeswoman said.

“The university’s corporate logo is a stylised version of the ceremonial crest. The graphical design of it is intended to be easy to reproduce, and the Latin inscription was only removed from this version in order to simplify its reproduction on various media, such as in digital form and in small sizes for print. 

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