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Traditions & Symbols
Originally used as a weapon, the mace has become an ornamental symbol of authority borne by a public official at ceremonies. At Rowan, the University Mace is carried by the senior faculty member acting as grand marshal in the Commencement procession. The mold for the mace was made by the University art department. A gift of the Alumni Association, the mace was cast of solid silver by William C. Martin Jewelers in Philadelphia.
The Presidential Medallion was struck with a die of the University seal. It symbolizes the office of the presidency. Ornamental plates interspersed on the chain depict griffin-like owls as a symbol of the pedagogical heritage of the University. Other plates are engraved with the names and years of service of the previous presidents, Jerohn J. Savitz, Edgar F. Bunce, Thomas E. Robinson, Mark M. Chamberlain, Herman D. James and Donald J. Farish. The President wears the medallion during official ceremonies such as Commencement, Convocation and the Presidential Inauguration.
The pageantry of Commencement is rich with symbolism and tradition. Candidates for graduation must wear a cap and gown to participate in the ceremony and other symbolic elements are part of the procession and program.
The wearing of academic gowns is a tradition that dates back to the early 14th century. The gowns were first used to distinguish scholars from regular citizens. The added advantage of the garments was to keep the medieval academics warm in the unheated buildings they used. Their practical purposes soon gave way to embellishments and the gowns became a means of identifying certain academic achievements.
Commencement not only includes academic protocol and traditional costume, but also symbolic elements of the procession and ceremony. Among the most visible of these are the gonfalons which represent each of the Colleges in the University. Acting as the College Marshal, the senior member of the faculty in each College bears the gonfalon in Commencement and Convocation processions.