After 144 years with the same old Victorian seal, the University of California has decided to go mod.

The university's original logo -- with its open book, 1868 date stamp and "Let there be light" script -- will still be in circulation, appearing on president's letters and official university documents. But marketing materials and websites will feature a radically simple and more contemporary symbol: a little "C" nesting inside a shield-shaped "U."

"They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California -- just more modern, user-friendly," said Dianne Klein of UC's Office of the President. "That's not to take away from the gravitas of the original seal."

The new look, fashioned by an in-house design team, is part of a broader remake of the 10-campus university's image. It's meant to catch the eye of California residents, businesses and politicians alike -- to show how relevant the university is to the state, and, in turn, bring in more fundraising and state revenue.

Available in an array of colors, including beachy pastels, the logo figures prominently in the "Onward California" marketing campaign. Its slogan: "Whether you know it or not, the University of California, or a UC grad, has probably played a part in your day."

Klein said the intricate details of the original seal, though beautiful, don't reproduce well or come across digitally or when used in small places. Plus, she said, modernizing the logo shows "there's nothing static about an excellent university."

Of course, logos and branding don't tend to reside anywhere near the center of an undergraduate's consciousness, especially the week before finals. On the campus of UC Berkeley on Thursday morning, most students interviewed said they hadn't seen or heard of UC's new look, which was quietly introduced last month. Some weren't quite sure what the original one even looked like.

At a cafe near the iconic Sather Gate, Jacqueline Williams studied the baby-blue and yellow image featured at the top of the UC Office of the President's Web page.

"It takes you a little bit to figure out what it is," she said.

Her friends weren't so kind. One described the soft colors and block letters as "childish." Another said her first take was "health care."

"I feel like when you're talking about a prestigious school, you don't change big things," said senior Correy Johnson.

Harry Rackmil, a sophomore, said he was partial to the original logo, but he could see why UC would want a modern look that would stand out in printed materials and online.

Anirudh Sri, on the other hand, said he found the whole thing "weird." Though quick to note that the design would have little bearing on his life at Cal, he said he saw the original seal as prestigious, an homage to the system's traditions and history.

"Harvard's not going around changing its seal," he said.

Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.