The emblem of the University of Costa Rica is the most important symbol of its identity. It is a historical legacy that recaptures the symbols of the Universidad de Santo Tomas – Costa Rica’s first university – and it reflects the highest ideal of the UCR.
The University Board, in line with article 229 of the Organic Law, in special meeting 4512, article 2, on Monday, December 20th, 1999, agreed on the following specifications for the emblem of the University of Costa Rica: “The shield will be an oval with its width being equivalent to 5/6 of its height. In this oval, over a light blue background and on the right side, there will be a mountain range, with the sun coming out behind it; on the opposite side, on the lowest part, there will be a sunflower on the ground facing the sun.
The emblem will be adorned with two branches of laurel intertwined by their stems on the top, with their tips facing downward. The words ‘Universidad de Costa Rica’ will be printed between the body of the emblem and the branches of laurel, and the lower side will bear a legend saying Lucem Aspicio (in search of light) surrounding the oval.”
The flag is another traditional symbol of the University. From its foundation in August 1940, the University of Costa Rica adopted the then (1842) national flag of the Free State of Costa Rica as its banner; this was the time when the Universidad de Santo Tomas, the UCR’s precursory institution, was founded.
Previously, and until 1839, when the country belonged to the United Provinces of Central America, the flag that was used had two blue stripes to the sides, which represented the oceans on the coasts of the Isthmus, and a white one in the middle. However, “two years, after the country separated itself from the Central American Federation, a new flag and a new emblem were decreed on April 21, 1840. These symbols were current up until the fall of the government of Braulio Carrillo Colina (1840-1842).” (1)
It is worth clarifying that in 1842 two flags were used in Costa Rica, one with white, blue and white stripes, like that of the UCR, and the other one, decreed by Francisco Morazán after overthrowing Braulio Carrillo in April of that year, with the stripes inverted, i.e., with the white stripe in the middle. The flag adopted by the Universidad de Santo Tomas was Carrillo’s flag.
A part of the agreement made by the UCR Board in special meeting 4512, article 2, on Monday, December 20th, 1999, the following was specified: “The flag will consist of three horizontal stripes, all in the same width: the upper and lower stripes will be white and the one in the middle will be blue. The center will bear the emblem of the University, specified in this agreement.”
The dimensions of the flag must be the same as those of the official flags of the countries in accordance with the standards followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, i.e., 1.2 meters high by 2 meters wide.
The flag has a 3x5 ratio between height and length. The distance between the emblem and the edges of the blue stripe is equal to one fourth of the distance between the tips of the laurel branches on the top and bottom.
La Marcha Universitaria
Letra: Arquímides Jiménez. Música: Julio Mata
¡Alma Mater! Los hijos del pueblo
a ti vamos con júbilo y fe
porque sólo encontramos progreso
en el arte, la ciencia y el bien.
Con la antorcha del mérito alzada
que las sombras borró del ayer
en el cielo gentil de la Patria
encendiste una aurora también.
Si mañana han de ser adalides
los que alcancen honroso laurel
los que avancen confiados y firmes
por la senda inmortal del saber
¡Alma Mater! nosotros iremos
tras el noble ideal por doquier
que confianza nos dan y denuedo
sólo el arte, la ciencia y el bien.
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The correct use of the visual symbols of the university is detailed in the Manual of Visual Identity of the Universidad de Costa Rica. More information on this matter can be found in the website of the Outreach and Information Office.