An academic robe is worn over regular clothes (except in warm weather, men who have gowns of a style that close in front, may remove their coats). Men should wear dark suits and white shirts with ties. Both men and women should wear dark shoes.
A cap (also known as a mortarboard) is an essential part of an academic costume and should be worn with the gown at all times. Men should remove their caps while singing the national anthem or alma mater and during prayers. At other times, follow the President of the University. The cap should be worn straight on the head and pulled well down over the forehead. Tassels should be worn over the right edge until after the appropriate point in the ceremony. Degree hoods should be checked to be sure they hang properly.
The Alderson Broaddus University Seal
The official seal bears the founding date, 1871, as well as a candle, which signifies the torch of learning an open book, the Bible, which signifies a source of knowledge and truth. The Latin word Ex Obscuritate in Lucem is translated as “out of darkness into light.”
The Presidential Medallion
The Presidential Medallion is worn by the President at all formal academic functions where regalia is required.
In the Middle Ages, the mace was used by knights as a weapon. However, since the 14th century, the mace has been used as a ceremonial symbol of authority. The mace used in the ceremony today is a piece carved from a single block of cherry wood by AB alumnus Mark Warner ’68. The mace carving includes the Latin wording and symbols from the official college seal. The case in which the mace will be displayed and stored was also made by Warner. It bears the inscription, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).
Marshals and Mace Bearer
The tradition of academic marshals comes from storied English universities. The Marshals are the chief protocol officers who coordinate the ceremonial traditions of commencement, including the processional and recessional. Marshals are typically members of the faculty. Student marshals help facilitate graduate processions and recessions during ceremonies. The Mace Bearer is responsible for the school’s mace and leading the ceremonial marches.
Honorary Degrees, higher education’s most prestigious recognition, are reserved for eminent individuals with national or international reputations. Recipients are typically leading scholars, discoverers, inventors, authors, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, social activists, and leaders in politics or government. Honorary degrees are also awarded to people who have rendered lifelong service to the university through board membership, volunteerism, or major financial contributions.
Recipients are not necessarily graduates of the awarding institution; rather, the school often views the degree as an opportunity to establish ties with a prominent person. At some schools, honorary degree recipients deliver the commencement and/or baccalaureate address, but this is not a requirement. Honorary degree recipients are selected through a nomination process established by a school’s governing body, and its own trustees.
Honorary degrees are conferred “honoris causa”, a Latin term meaning “for the sake of honor”. Honorary degrees are not Ph.D., nor do they entitle the recipient to the same professional privileges as individuals who have earned degrees. Honorary degree recipients are properly addressed as “doctor” in correspondence from the university/college that awarded the honorary degree and in conversation.
Because honorary degrees are so prestigious, it is imperative to award them with solemnity. Honorary degrees are often presented at commencement to take advantage of the pomp and circumstance already in place and to accommodate the largest possible audience.
Graduates will march single file in procession; all others will march double file. Please keep about two yards (never less than an arm’s length) from the person in front of you. This may even necessitate coming to a halt when the procession slows while the people ahead of you are being seated.
The academic gown, as used in America, is really a uniform. On its historic and picturesque side, it serves to remind those who don it of the continuity and dignity of learning and recalls the honored roll of English-speaking university men. On its democratic side, it subdues the differences in dress arising from the differences in taste, fashion, manners and wealth, and clothes all with the outward grace of equal fellowship which has ever been claimed as an inner fact in the republic of learning.
Hoods are the most expressive component of the academic costume. With modest beginnings as head-warming cowls on medieval monks’ cloaks, hoods today communicate the owner’s school, degree, and field of study through their length and the colors of the lining and binding.
Actually, today’s hoods are not really hoods at all. Instead, they have evolved from a serviceable article of clothing to a type of elongated scarf draped over the shoulders and displayed down the back with the lining turned inside out.
Master’s degree hoods are three and one-half feet long, while doctor’s degree hoods are four feet in length.
Hoods are lined with the official school color or colors, hood linings indicate where the wearers earned their degrees. Almost always, these are the schools’ athletic colors. Hood linings are typically made of silk or equivalent synthetic fiber.
Binding, also called edging, trim, or borders, is the term for the velvet or velveteen sewn around the edge of the hood. The color indicates the wearer’s field of study; for master’s degrees, three inches, for specialist’s degrees, four inches, and for a doctorate, five inches
Based on the design of the traditional doctoral gown, presidential regalia is of the finest quality fabric and styling. Presidents are the only academics entitled to wear a fourth velvet sleeve chevron. Presidential regalia are retained by the school and worn only while the president is in office. The president’s costume is completed by either a doctor’s tam and gold tassel or a mortarboard with a long or short gold or black tassel.
Regardless of their earned degrees, members of a school’s governing body are entitled to wear doctoral gowns trimmed in black velvet. Members of a school’s governing body wear hoods either of their own earned degrees or those “especially prescribed for them by the institution.” Such hoods are not indicative of any degree, but instead, are custom-designed to complement the gown. Trustee hoods are four feet long, or doctor’s length. Headgear can range from the popular choice of a velvet tam with a short gold tassel or mortarboard with thread tassels.
Mortarboards and Tams
No one knows for certain how mortarboards came to be part of the academic costume, but there are several plausible theories. Where the actual mortarboard shape came from is subject to speculation. Regardless of how the tradition started, illustrations from Oxford in 1674 show a scholar wearing a mortarboard a little different from ours today. The mortarboard is worn by all degrees. They should be black and covered with the same fabric as the gown. The hat is properly worn flat on the head with the pointed under cap pulled onto the wearer’s forehead. It should be parallel to the ground, not cocked back on the head so that the tassel can fall straight down the side of the wearer’s face. The academic costume is not complete and correct without the mortarboard.
In recent years, however, soft velvet tams with four, six, or eight corners have become popular, superseding the mortarboard as the headgear of choice for doctorates. Black mortarboards, however, are still correct for doctorates to wear. The tam is properly placed flat on the wearer’s head. It should not be pulled too far forward onto the forehead like a beret, nor should it cling precariously to the back of the head. The preferred color is black, although some schools’ special regalia include colored tams for doctors.
Mortarboards and tams are worn throughout the academic procession and conferral of degrees. Men should remove their hats as a sign of respect during the national anthem, prayer, and alma mater. Other appropriate but optional times are during the commencement address and baccalaureate sermon. Women are not required to remove headgear at any time. Traditionally, removal is done in unison and orchestrated by a verbal signal from the podium.
Honorary Degree Recipient Regalia
Honorary degree candidates wear a black doctor’s gown with black velvet facings and sleeve chevrons and a tam with gold tassel, or a mortarboard with either gold- or black-thread tassel. He or she is hooded with the school’s doctors’ hood trimmed in the appropriate faculty color.
During commencement, flags from various states and countries of the graduating class will be displayed on the platform. The flags represent the states and countries of students who are graduating from Alderson Broaddus University.