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Decoding Campus Symbols

08_27Violet4Visitors to Oral Roberts University quickly notice the unique architecture on campus, but may not know the designs contain spiritual symbolism.

Architect Frank Wallace assisted Oral Roberts in designing the “futuristic” campus in 1963.

Associate Professor and Dean of Learning Resources, Dr. William Jernigan, has been at ORU for almost 50 years. He worked with Chancellor Roberts and knew him well. Jernigan agrees there is a great amount of symbolism.


The triangle shape of the Learning Resource Center [LRC] represents the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many buildings on campus are in the shape of a shield, including the chapel and Graduate Center [GC].

This is in reference to Ephesians 6:16, which talks about taking up the shield of faith. The LRC has more symbolism than the GC, due to its later renovations.

“All the stairs in the LRC have 12 steps,” said Jernigan. “It represents the Twelve Disciples.”
Outside the GC there is a fountain. Water falls from 12 openings, also representing the Twelve Apostles.

Prayer Tower

Rising 200 feet, the Prayer Tower stands at the center of campus. It is in the shape of a cross with the observation deck resembling the crown of thorns. It can be seen from relatively anywhere on campus.

When asked about the reflective gold on the outside of the tower Dr. Jernigan replied, “He [Oral Roberts] liked gold and anodized aluminum, it doesn’t show wear as much.”


Three “Eternal Flames” can be seen on campus. One burns atop the Prayer Tower. The other two burn at each end of the GC/LRC buildings. They represent the constant presence of the Holy Spirit.

Christ’s Chapel

Christ’s Chapel’s main sanctuary seats 3,500 people. It also represents the Christian shield of faith with its shape, and its white-pointed arches indicate hands joined in prayer.

Jernigan said Howard Auditorium looks a little out of place compared to the rest of the architecture on campus. The golden geodesic-dome is reminiscent of the Epcot building in Disney World. Jernigan was unaware of any kind of connection.

When walking on campus, it can sometimes feel like a maze. It doesn’t take long to notice that there are few 90-degree angles in the sidewalks.

“I think that was just a quirk of Oral and Frank Wallace’s,” said Jernigan.

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