The Enduring Symbol of UAlbany
the University at Albany's beginnings as the New
York State Normal College, Minerva, the Roman
goddess of wisdom has been the institution's
enduring symbol. The figure of Minerva and the
Latin motto, Sapientia et sua et docendi causa
("Wisdom both for its own sake and for the sake of
teaching") have appeared on the University seal
since about 1913. Today, Minerva, wearing her
distinctive helmet, continues to symbolize the
University's proud past and long-standing
reputation for educational excellence.
- UAlbany's seven-foot-plus white plaster statue of
Minerva was purchased in 1888.
- While there is no official record of where she
came from, remembrances have it that the statue
was purchased with funds from a $1 student fee
collected for make-up exams.
- The Minerva statue was originally located at 88
Willett St. in Albany when the University was the
New York State Normal College. In 1906, when a
devastating fire broke out in the college's
administrative offices, a brave custodian, Charles Wurtham, rescued the statue from the burning
- Minerva assumed her new home in the rotunda of
Draper Hall when UAlbany was the State College for
Teachers. For more than six decades she was a
popular meeting place for students. "Meetcha at
Minnie" was a favorite phrase and her photograph
appeared frequently in UAlbany yearbooks.
- In January 1962, UAlbany's Minerva achieved
national fame when an article about the teacher's
college appeared in an issue of the
Review and she was pictured on the cover.
- In 1966, as a gift to the University, the senior
Class of 1967 moved the statue from the downtown
campus to the new main campus and paid for her
refurbishment. The Class named themselves the
"Guardians of Minerva."
In 1987 Minerva was rededicated and today graces
the lobby of the Science Library.
- Minerva is also mentioned in the lyrics of
UAlbany's alma mater:
"Wisdom's duty heeds thy call,
Ever in Minerva's thrall,
Pass the torch from one to all,
Guide each destiny.
'Neath the Purple and the Gold,
Let thy history unfold,
Sons and daughters, young and old,
Hail to Albany."