When the local Board of Trustees officially renamed Okaloosa-Walton College as Northwest Florida State College at its July 2008 meeting, the wheels were set in motion for other changes necessary to reflect the school's role as part of Florida's new State College System. At the board's September 16 meeting, college trustees voted to approve a new seal for the college -- the formal symbol that is used on diplomas and official documents. Also announced by the college was as new logo, which will be the primary visual symbol of NWF State College and used on everything from stationary to T-shirts.
After soliciting design ideas from both inside and outside the college, original art work by Benjamin Gillham, a Professor of Graphic Design at Northwest Florida State College, was chosen for both of the new visual images of NWF State College. Gillham, who teaches everything from graphic design to photography and multimedia, noted that he took inspiration from the college's history and expanded mission as a state college to design the new college seal and logo.
"We are so pleased that the work of one of our talented professors was chosen for these new college symbols," said Dr. Bob Richburg, college president. Richburg noted that the new college seal retains the 1963 founding date and the motto "Educatio Optima" from the original OWJC seal. "All other design elements used in both the seal and logo are unique motifs that reflect our expanded role as a state college," Richburg said.
As a central element, the new NWF State College seal contains an artistic rendering of the "Seven Dancers" sculpture, an architectural feature on the college's main campus in Niceville created by Esther Wertheimer. Gillham noted that inclusion of the Seven Dancers reflects both a visual image of the college as well as a symbolic statement of the college's mission - as the diversity of ages, gender and ethnicity represent the diverse student population of more than 15,000 students at NWF State College.
"The dancers are set against a backdrop of a rising sun to represent the State of Florida and the light of knowledge," said Gillham. "The dancers reach upwards toward seven stars which are placed in the sky in the geographic location of the college's seven area campuses and centers."
Gillham also created a new logo for the college, an abstract design that incorporates the unique proportions of the Northwest Florida coastline to represent the college's expanded service area. The logo and variations of it will be the primary visual symbol for the college seen by the public, used on everything from college letterhead to imprinted items such as T-shirts or mugs.
"The arc design central to the logo was created as a freehand artistic interpretation of the coastline as seen from satellite imagery," said Gillham. "The arc is in forward motion to symbolize the positive future created for students through the pursuit of higher education."
According to Gillham, the arc - due to its abstract nature - may also be interpreted as an open book, representing the foundation of the educational process or waves in water - indicating the college's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. "You may also see a bird in flight, which I think speaks to the college's connection with the Doolittle Raiders who trained at Eglin for their historic air mission during WWII, and for which the college's athletic mascot, Raiders, is named," said Gillham.
The logo design also echoes many of the architectural features of the main campus in Niceville, including the arcing water feature at the Learning Resources Center (LRC), and the prominent arcs included in the LRC building, the Science building, and the Mattie Kelly Arts Center. College officials noted that the new visual images are the property of Northwest Florida State College and may not be used without permission of the college.