Per Aspera Ad Astra: An Enduring Motto
How many families can claim their own official motto? Per aspera ad astra (Latin for "from adversity to the stars"), the official motto of Stevens Institute of Technology, was originally the motto of the Stevens family before later being adopted by the university the family founded.
The university’s first president, Henry Morton, wrote a poem, “Per Aspera ad Astra,” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Stevens, reciting it at the Anniversary Banquet on Feb. 18, 1897, at the Hotel Waldorf in New York. According to The Stevens Life magazine, Morton opened with:
What are those stars by rugged pathway gained?
And what the road by which they are attained?
Those stars are the rewards, the crowns, the goals
The final dwellings of heroic souls.
For generations of Stevens students, alumni, faculty and staff ever since, this motto has beautifully captured the rigors of a Stevens education, as well as the knowledge and enlightenment that education ultimately brings. The motto not only survived but thrived, appearing on the Stevens seal on the Ninth Street gate that greets visitors to campus; serving as a sign-off for Stevens President Nariman Farvardin’s regular correspondences with the Stevens community; and turning up on regular correspondences among fellow alumni.
Stellar imagery can also be found all around campus, from Mary Callery’s “Moon and Stars” sculpture hanging at the entry of the S.C. Williams Library to the star that appears in the logo specially created for Stevens’ 150th anniversary.