Maine’s Only Catholic College Removes Cross from Brand

The symbol of Saint Joseph’s College, the only Catholic college in Maine, has long been a seal with a cross on a shield with the motto “Fortitudo et Spes” meaning “Fortitude and Hope.” But the president of the college just announced in a letter to students forwarded to The Cardinal Newman Society that after an extensive marketing study, the college founded by The Sisters of Mercy will be removing the cross and motto from the logo.

“This is about much more than a logo or a look,” said Brent Wooten, director of online marketing for Saint Joseph’s in the college’s magazine. “It’s about who we are.”

In a letter exclusively obtained by The Cardinal Newman Society, President Dr. James S. Dlugos informed students of the change:

Dear Student,

As the fall semester winds down, I know you are busy with completing classes, preparing for finals and all of the usual end-of-term activities. I wish you all the best as you push on toward the holidays.

After a well-deserved break you will return to campus finding a new look and a new organization. Last year, we undertook an extensive marketing survey. We canvassed more than 3,000 individuals, including faculty, staff, students, parents, college counselors and alumni. One of the results is a refreshed identity for the College, including a new logo which allows us to promote our curriculum and uniqueness as an institution in a format relevant to perspective students in New England and beyond…

On behalf of everyone at Saint Joseph’s, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a safe and joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

The old logo:

sjc maine

The new logo is simply five gold bars in the shape of a shield, according to the letter.

According to the college’s website, Saint Joseph’s, which was founded by The Sisters of Mercy in 1912, conducted research on how people perceive the college in order to establish a brand. “A brand is much more than a logo or a visual system,” said faculty member Mary Lynn Engel in the college’s magazine. Engel, who served on the branding committee and teaches a course in branding on campus, said, “The Saint Joseph’s brand will be a  holistic concept about who we are and how we tell others who we are.”

The college hired branding firm Ethos Marketing and its research partner, Pan Atlantic Strategic Marketing Services, to survey high school seniors and their parents (in Maine and Massachusetts); current on-campus and online students; prospective online learners; recent alumni; and faculty and staff. The surveys asked about factors considered in choosing a college, key images and perceptions of Saint Joseph’s, and the major strengths and weaknesses of the college. Focus groups were conducted with similar groups and the Sisters of Mercy associated with Saint Joseph’s College.

Clearly, the cross does not poll well. Neither does the Latin motto “Fortitude and Hope.”

The college’s mission statement reads, “Rooted in and professing fidelity to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the doctrines and heritage of the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Joseph’s College, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, is a liberal arts college that nurtures intellectual, spiritual and social growth in students of all ages and all faiths within a value-centered environment.”

Saint Joseph’s College did not respond to questions by the time of publication.


This article was originally published in Campus Notes, the blog of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). Founded in 1993, the mission of The Cardinal Newman Society is to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education. They can be contacted at: alert at cardinalnewmansociety dot org.

Matthew Archbold


Matthew Archbold is a contributing writer to Campus Notes and to National Catholic Register, as well as the co-founder of the popular website, Creative Minority Report.

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  • In the letter to the students, they are called “perspective students” instead of prospective. Good work professor. So now we are ashamed of our Catholic heritage because it doesn’t “poll well.” Sad.

  • Catholic in Maine

    This decision is very disappointing. I am however grateful this was reported now. My daughter is in the process of considering colleges and St Josephs is a school we’ve discussed. An important part of her decision is related to the “Catholic Identity” of the school. She wants to go to a school that is not simply Catholic in name only. The news of this decision makes the decision easier – St Josephs in no longer on the list. Sadly, there are no real Catholic college options in Maine.

  • Wayne G. Fischer

    I’m surprised they kept “Roman Catholic Church” in their mission statement – surely that did not poll well, either…given the Church’s teachings against abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexual acts, … .

    Trying to be all things to all people has never worked…you end up being nothing to anyone.

  • Athanasius

    How does “Saint” poll? Maybe they should just call themselves “Joe’s College” and get it over with.

  • Athanasius

    Another option, not too far out of state, is Thomas More College in Merrimack N.H.

  • Carolyn McKinney

    Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is known for its Catholic identity (called “Joyfully Catholic” by the Cardinal Newman Society) and it is in the top 2% for academics, according to the Association for College Trustees and Alumni.

  • Typical American sense…. Christianity became commercialised the day it landed in the USA ….. this is just an extension of that trend…. Christ does not need to be marketed…. I wish these pseudo scholars dissociate from the Catholic faith….. you are a shame ….

  • Once again, it is proven that you can’t worship both God and mammon. With a mission statement that says they’re “rooted in and professing fidelity” to Christ and the teachings of the Church, removing the cross and logo seems very hypocritical to me.

  • Catholic in Maine

    Thank you! We will follow up! God Bless

  • If the letter was transcribed, the error might not be in the original.

  • As silly as this issue is, I would not base a decision that could affect the rest of your daughter’s life on this alone. You owe it to her to research the school options far more thoroughly than basing a decision on a single blog post.

  • Ok, so this is a little strange. Why quote from part of the letter, but not the part that explains appearance of the new logo? The St. Joseph’s website says that the new branding won’t be ready to be unveiled until March. There is nothing available on any website that explains the new logo’s appearance.

    Might this be a huge fuss over nothing?

  • George Marshall

    Isn’t that a cross on the shield?

  • BP

    Five vertical bars, eh? Brings to mind the five pillars of islam. Nice branding job Ethos Marketing!

  • My son graduated from Thomas More a couple of years ago. It is thoroughly Catholic. The education is liberal arts, so unless students go on to grad school, there is not much prep for actual jobs after graduation. My son went on to chiropractic college, but had to do the equivalent of another year of college at another school to get his science pre-reqs to be accepted because Thomas More has very limited course selections.

  • bless

    Looks like giving into culture to me. What a crock of…..

  • jmt

    What’s so silly about the issue of removing a cros?

  • It’s silly because there appears to be no evidence that it has actually happened. Where is this new logo, and where is the description from the letter that supposedly contains it?

  • OLMC8

    I have 6 children; 2 now in college. When they were considering college I pointed out the faithful practicing graduates from Saint Joseph’s college to them – none. Now I know two wonderful men in their 20’s who graduated from St. Joe’s. Two!! I, also, wonder how much of our Diocesan funds are going to St. Joseph’s College. Isn’t it interesting that soon after Bishop Malone left for the Diocese of Buffalo that this happened. He is far away and doing his best to get acclimated to his new Diocese while still being the administrator of this Diocese. May the Good Saint Joseph continue to pray and intercede for all of our youth.

  • sue

    Pseudo scholars? Moron is a better word!