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Class Shields

It has been a long standing tradition for Dominican seniors to present first year students a “shield” on which a painted design and motto are displayed. This shield is intended to help guide the new students during their time at Dominican. These shields are presented at a special celebration each year known as Shield Day.

University Shield

The Dominican University of California shield shows a gold dog with a flaming torch in its mouth, against a black backdrop. This symbol had its origin in a dream attributed to the mother of St. Dominic: She dreamed that she would bear a child who would set the world on fire with the wonder of his preaching. 

The name of the Dominican order in Latin, Dominicanes, (domini canes) means "Hounds of the Lord."

In 1973, the Firebrand shield became the shield of the University, then Dominican College of San Rafael. The University’s motto, Veritas fax ardens, means “Truth Is a Flaming Torch.”

When unveiled at the event the shields are colorfully painted on wood. Until 1961, the shields were then turned into stained glass renditions. Now, the shields eventually take the form of hand-crafted wood carvings. The wood carvings are presented each year at Commencement.

Dominican's shields, dating back to the early 1920s, can be viewed on campus in Meadowlands Residence Hall, Guzman Lecture Hall, and Caleruega Hall, or the see shield archives here


2013 Wisdom in Community 


The shield for the Class of 2013, by means of strong visual elements, juxtaposes the lifeworld of the modern university student against the rich and storied tradition of this institution. The focal point of the image shows a globe presented forth and supported by two hands. Though the students of the Class of 2013 may differ in terms of their national origin, their cultural heritage, and their respective ideologies, they share the common bond of being citizens of the global information society that, through the search for truth and wisdom, transcends boundaries, inspires acceptance, and unites the disparate.

The strong and supportive hands present the globe against the backdrop of the symbols of our Dominican heritage – the four pillars of study, service, community, and reflection. At the bottom of the shield is the Hound of St. Dominic borrowed from the University’s firebrand. Just as St. Dominic was destined to set the world on fire with the wonder of his preaching, so shall the students of the Class of 2013 – by means of the study, service, and reflection that unites them in solidarity as Dominican scholars – go forth and share their wisdom with others in the larger global community.

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