The Hillsdale College coat of arms was initially proposed by the Hillsdale College Alumni Association. Joseph Wolf of the Newberry Library in Chicago developed the College heraldry. Included (from the top) are:
- A rearing charger (the nickname of Hillsdale’s athletic teams)
- The book of knowledge - 1844
- The helmet from the Blackmar coat of arms (referring to Esbon Blackmar, donor of the College’s original 25 acres)
- The bell of independence
- A seashell to commemorate the heroism of Charles V. Gridley during the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898
- The lamp of learning
- Two crosses to indicate the religious background of the school
- Crossed sabers represent the magnificent role of Hillsdale College in the Civil War.
The Hillsdale College motto, “virtus tentamine gaudet,” translates “strength rejoices in the challenge” and is inscribed on the scroll at the base of the coat of arms.