KU's first chancellor, Rev. R.W. Oliver, chose the seal in 1866. It was redesigned by Elden Tefft, professor emeritus of art, for the university's centennial.
It pictures Moses kneeling in awe before a bush engulfed in flames. The translation of the Latin inscription on the seal is "I will see this great vision in which the bush does not burn."
The story of Moses' vision is from the third chapter of Exodus, in the Bible. Fire symbolizes knowledge in many stories and myths. Moses is thought to represent the humble attitude of the scholar who recognizes the unquenchable nature of the pursuit of truth and knowledge.