Q: What is the history and meaning of Penn’s shield?
A: The Penn coat-of-arms  was derived by combining the coat-of-arms of Benjamin Franklin and that of  William Penn’s family.  The dolphin on  the red chief was part of Franklin’s  coat-of-arms and the three silver plates on the blue chevron were part of  Penn’s.  The two were combined on a white  shield along with two open volumes representing the University’s educational  purpose.

Q: What is the history and meaning of Penn’s motto?
A: The motto of the University, Leges Sine Moribus Vanae, means “Laws without morals are  useless (in vain).”  It comes from  the longer quotation from Horace, “Quid  leges sine moribus vanae proficient?”  the sense of which is “of what avail are empty laws without (good)  morals?”

Q: What is the history and meaning of Penn’s colors?
A: Eighteenth century American academic institutions did not  have colors.  The earliest known  representation of the combined Penn colors, red and blue, is based on the  incised lid of the 1871 College Hall corner stone.

One legend traces their origin to an early track meet at Saratoga, New    York, between Penn, Harvard, and Yale.  When asked by the officials what colors would  be representing the Penn team, the captain reportedly replied, “We’re  going to be wearing the colors of the teams we beat,” i.e. Harvard Crimson and  Yale Blue.  We shall assume that Penn was  victorious and thus remained loyal to the red and blue.