Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature


TISL's Seal Expresses Its Values and Heritage

With words and symbols, the Great Seal of the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature conveys the principles and priorities of the organization.

The Seal was designed in 1976 by Douglas Littlejohn of The University of Memphis when he was Chief of Staff for Gov. David Lillard Jr.

Tonya Kelley
Tonya Kelley

Thirty years later, Tonya Kelley of the same institution won a statewide contest to modernize the Seal for the 21st Century.

The words "Leadership" and "Scholarship" express TISL's ideals. The gavels and the Roman fasces to the left of the gavels are historic symbols of power and order. Two gavels represent the two houses of the Legislature. The textbook is symbolically open to suggest an eagerness to learn.

The three stars represent the Grand Divisions of Tennessee, and 1966 is the year TISL was founded.

The original Seal was adopted as the symbol of TISL by the Executive Council on March 4, 1976, in a meeting at Gallatin.

The Original TISL Seal

In 2006, the Executive Council conducted a statewide contest among college students to modernize the Seal.

The winning design by Ms. Kelley, a graphic design major, was chosen by an independent panel of judges chaired by Nashville graphic designer Laura Wylie McCoy. Nashville painter Emme Nelson Baxter was the second judge. Dale Allen, a Nashville lawyer, TISL alumnus and director of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, was the third judge.

The modernized Seal incorporates the words and symbols of the original design while updating the images. It adds the colors of the Tennessee state flag along with other design improvements to make the Seal more vibrant and exciting.

The Seal, as the primary symbol of TISL, is used on the Internet, on printed materials and in other ways to communicate TISL's values and represent its heritage.

The Great Seal
Of The State
Of Tennessee

State Seal 1

"There shall be a Seal of this State, which shall be kept by the Governor, and used by him officially, and shall be called the Great Seal of the State of Tennessee."

Tennessee Constitution
Article III, Section 15

The first Great Seal of Tennessee was adopted in 1801. A slightly modernized version, depicted above, was adopted in 1987.

The Roman numerals XVI signify that Tennessee was the 16th state to enter the Union, which occurred in 1796.

The plow, the sheaf of wheat and a cotton stalk symbolize important aspects of Tennessee agriculture, while the riverboat represents the importance of river traffic to commerce.

The official Seal is in the lobby of the Governor's Office on the first floor of the State Capitol.

The Seal was removed from the Capitol in 1862 by the fleeing Confederate government when Union forces were about to capture Nashville. It was returned after the Civil War.

It is still in regular use.


Symbols of Tennessee

TISL is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) educational corporation chartered by the State of Tennessee.
©2006 et seq. Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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