Our Mission

Briar Cliff University is a community committed to higher education within liberal arts and Catholic perspective. In the Franciscan tradition of service, caring, and openness to all, Briar Cliff emphasizes quality education for its students, combining a broad intellectual background with career development. The University challenges its members to grow in self-awareness and in their relationship to others and to God.

Our Vision

The lifelong learning place preparing ethical world changers.

Our Values

These values are not just the values of the Franciscan order that founded Briar Cliff University over 90 years ago, they are the foundation of everything we do and believe here at Briar Cliff University. We ensure that every single academic program and activity is centered on these ideals to help instill these Franciscan values in our community.

Building a Caring Community

  • We nurture healthy relationships.
  • We value and respect the uniqueness of each person.
  • We treat others with care, compassion, and kindness.
  • We are welcoming and open to all we meet.


  • We promote peace and non-violence, and work for justice.
  • We encourage open dialogue.
  • We accept and value differences.
  • We resolve conflicts through respectful listening and negotiating.

Reverencing Creation

  • We see all life as sacred and relate to all of creation with a sense of reverence.
  • We honor the goodness of God’s presence in all of creation.
  • We strive to live in harmony as sister and brother.
  • We conserve and preserve our natural resources for future generations.

Connection with Joyful Service  

  • We are open to gratefully receiving the gifts of others.
  • We give as we have received and joyfully share our gifts with others, locally and globally.
  • We recognize that every person can make a difference in another’s life.
  • We seek to serve those most in need.

Significant Standards and Symbols

While our students, employees, and graduates are the most prominent indicators of our mission and values, there are many other significant standards and symbols that can be seen throughout Briar Cliff University.

Our Guiding Principles
  • Catholic Franciscan identity, enhanced by the presence and support of the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters and the Diocese of Sioux City.
  • A challenging academic environment, which includes a liberal arts education, career preparation, academic integrity, and academic freedom.
  • Our focus on the student, which promotes academic success and extra/co-curricular experiences.
  • The tradition of service to constituents, to the Siouxland community, and beyond.
  • Appreciation of diversity and respect for each person.
  • Commitment to shared governance and collaborative decision-making. 
  • Innovative response to change, empowering a promising and confident future.
Our Official Logo

Our logo serves as the key visual indicator of our identity and mission. Our logo visually depicts our mission as a Catholic college, in the Franciscan tradition of service and caring. Our current logo is a refresh but continues the use of the well-recognized original institutional logo. It's a classic look that is both recognizable and eloquently formal.

The four points in the diamond between "Briar" and "Cliff" are meant to depict the following main characteristics of Briar Cliff University. 

  • Community - Connecting in joyful services, relationships bud.
  • Faith - Symbolizing the institution Catholic Franciscan heritage.
  • Location - Acknowledging the main campus, sprung out of a hill covered in briar patches.
  • Education - Recognizing each student's pursuit of higher academic success. 

The goal is always to continue to make the Briar Cliff University logo strongly recognized, understood, and remembered by everyone who comes into contact with our brand. Common, recurring, consistent, and respectful use of the institution's official logo directly impacts this goal.

There are several official Briar Cliff University logos for various branches of our services. For permission to use the Briar Cliff University logo and/or more information about what logo to use in what situation, please contact us

University Seal

The Briar Cliff University seal depicts values important to Briar Cliff University. The cross proclaims that we are a Christian university, dedicated to the love that Christ Jesus gave to all. The wavy lines indicate the location of the University in Siouxland, with the Missouri River as the western boundary. In the impressionistic eagle, the sign of the Sioux tribes who were a part of this area, we see strength and reaching for the heights. Mater Gratiae, Mother of Grace, proclaims Mary, Mother of the Savior, as patroness of Briar Cliff under her title of “Lady of Grace.” Caritas, love, is the Franciscan call to the two great commands: love God with all your power and love your neighbor as yourself. The star speaks of striving upward for knowledge and wisdom. 

The Briar Cliff seal must not be revised in any way and you must have approval to use the seal. Contact us for more information.

San Damiano Crucifix

When Saint Francis (1182-1226) was searching for the purpose of his life, he entered the church of San Damiano, a small church in disrepair outside Assisi, Italy. When Francis prayed before a crucifix painted on wood, he heard Christ telling him to rebuild His Church. He took fine cloth from his father’s store, sold it and used the money to restore the Church of San Damiano. He also begged for most of the materials needed to rebuild the church. From this point on, Francis devoted himself completely to God and continued to provide spiritual leadership and witness of service throughout his life. The Church of San Damiano later served as the home of Saint Clare. The San Damiano Crucifix, preserved in the Church of Santa Chiara, is a 12th- century icon representing the living God. The Crucifix, which reflects the death, resurrection and ascension into glory, expresses the total and universal Paschal Mystery of Christ. It invites us to a personal encounter with the sacred, transfigured Christ and to a life of faith and action in the manner of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.

The central figure of this icon is Christ, standing upright, not nailed, but alive with his eyes open. His arms are outstretched in a gesture of love and an invitation to faith as Savior of the world and eternal. Behind his outstretched arms is his empty tomb, represented as a black rectangle. The Ascension is portrayed within a circle of red at the top of the crucifix. Christ is holding a golden cross, his royal scepter, and wearing gold, a symbol of royalty and victory. The right hand of God the Father is extended, welcoming the Son into divine fullness. Below the arms of Jesus are witnesses to the Crucifixion. Mary, Jesus’ mother, John, the Apostle, Mary Magdalene, and Mary Clopas, mother of James, and a centurion. Also depicted are Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus’ side, and Stephen, the soldier who offered Jesus a sponge soaked in vinegar wine. At the bottom of the icon are six unknown saints who some suggest are Saints Damian, Rufinus, Michael, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, all patrons of Churches in the Assisi area. Saint Damian was the Patron of the Church in which Francis prayed before the Crucifix. Saint Rufinus was the Patron Saint of Assisi. Two groups of angels are also included. As he knelt before the Crucifix of San Damiano, Francis prayed: “Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart, and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command."