Thematically, the House Crest is inspired by Professor William Keeton's scientific discovery that homing pigeons' remarkable ability to find their way in nature is due to their use of multiple points and processes of navigation. Prior to his work, researchers were looking for that one thing that explained it all. The different tools of avian route finding (such as meteorology, geography, magnetism, celestial cues) are thus mutually complimentary. All matter, but none matter alone.
Keeton's scientific conclusions inform the spirit of the house named in his honor. The humble pigeon offers a way for students to think about one of life's most challenging problems: the complexity of finding one's way. Keeton's research reminds residents how important it is to eschew any single point of reference, identity, data point, or path in order to use all of our senses, all of our information, all of our tools for living and learning in order to find our way intellectually, morally, and socially.
Therefore, the unifying symbol of the official crest is an eight-pointed compass, suggesting the theme of lifelong navigation and discovery. The compass is woven into a circle labeled Cornell University, representing how that process is enmeshed within this much larger place of learning. A pigeon, symbol of flight, of homing instincts, and of our namesake's research, alights toward the western needle of the compass where the William Keeton House logo can be found. At the heart of the crest lies an open book, upon which are inscribed three Latin words:
Conscientia: consciousness, awareness, and knowledge
Those words, and the symbols that surround them, help guide residents toward fulfilling the mission of uniting the living and learning experiences at William Keeton House.