The origins of academic dress date back to the Middle Ages, when learning was largely confined to the church. The cap, gown and hood of modern usage descended from articles of dress worn by church dignitaries, likely for warmth in unheated buildings. The cap, of serge or broadcloth, is worn by holders of all degrees, but those with doctorates are entitled to wear a gold tassel and may substitute a velvet tam. Gowns for the bachelor’s degree have pointed sleeves; for the master’s degree, oblong sleeves; and for the doctoral degree, round, bell sleeves with bars of velvet either in black or in the degree color. Bachelor’s recipients have the option of wearing a Stole of Appreciation decorated with the university seal as a symbol of achievement. Holders of higher degrees wear the hood, which represents a cowl that was used at one time to cover the head. The doctor’s hood is slightly longer than the master’s and has a rounded shape. Each has a silk, satin or velvet border on the outside in colors representing the discipline in which the wearer received his or her degree. The assignment of those colors was standardized in the United States in the late 19th century and includes green, the color of medieval herbs, for medicine, maize for agriculture and golden yellow, standing for the wealth that scientific research has produced, for the sciences. The trim for Doctor of Philosophy is dark blue.
A Brief History of The Mace
The mace, as used today, derives from the original mace used as a weapon. Today, processions often feature maces as on parliamentary or formal academic occasions. A ceremonial mace is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood, carried before a sovereign or other high official in civic ceremonies by a mace-bearer intended to represent the official’s authority. Academic maces are no exception in that they represent the authority of the bearer and the institution. Most academic maces take the same general, historical shape. At the top is an ornament placed on a bulbous head, ring-shaped enlargements are found on the shaft and the base is a round, foliated ornament. The academic scepter, or mace, was one of the earliest distinctive signs of medieval university officials in the 14th century. It was carried during processions and graduation ceremonies, and was displayed as a symbol to command order during classes. The mace was a reminder of lawful power and regal authority and by the 15th century it had become symbolic of academic dignity. Although originally made of wood, it evolved into the elaborate use of metals, woods and gems. The Marshal, or mace bearer, is typically a distinguished faculty member who leads the stage party procession. The mace is placed either in the specially designed mace holder or upon a table and remains during the entire commencement ceremony. As the ceremony concludes, the Marshal takes the mace and leads the stage party recessional, followed by the students with their newly conferred degrees.
The Chancellor’s Medal
The Chancellor’s Medal is worn at ceremonial observances as a part of the chancellor’s regalia. At the center is the Stuntverkoop seal. The back of the medal displays the names of the campus’ chancellors and year he or she was inaugurated.