Ohio University


Commencement Ceremony Symbols

Academic Heraldry

The caps, gowns, and hood worn in university ceremonies are patterned after the attire of monks and students in the Middle Ages. Those who have earned bachelor's degrees wear gowns with a semi-stiff yoke, long pleated front, intricate shirring across the shoulders and back, and long, pointed sleeves. The holder of a master's degree wears a similar gown, with long or short oblong sleeves that hang down in the traditional manner and open at the wrist.

Those possessing the doctoral degree wear gowns with broad velvet panels down the front and three velvet bars on the full, round, open sleeves. This velvet trimming may be either black or the color of the distinctive field of learning represented by the degree. Most of the color and meaning of the costume is found in the hoods. These are silk-lined with the color or colors of the institution conferring the degree. As can readily be observed, the official colors of Ohio University are green and white.

Ceremonial Mace

For centuries, the mace has been used as a symbol of authority. Although it originated as a club-like weapon, in the Middle Ages a modified and less practical mace came to signify royal power. Over time, civic and then university officials also adopted maces ornamented with their own coats of arms. Today, the ceremonial maces carried in procession represent the authority of monarchs, legislatures, and universities around the world.

The late David R. Klahn, professor of art, designed the Ohio University Ceremonial Mace. It is modeled after one of the balustrades of an original stairway of Cutler Hall, the oldest building in use on the campus, and the University's main administrative building. Cast in bronze, the mace is 46 inches long and weighs 16 pounds. It features the University seal and a stylized representation of the Cutler Hall cupola.

The mace is carried and displayed during official ceremonies at Ohio University, including Commencement.

The Seal of the Office

Worn by the president at official Ohio University functions, the Seal of Office also was designed by the late Professor Klahn. Fabricated of silver and bronze, the primary medallion features a silhouette of Cutler Hall, the date of Ohio University's founding (1804), and the words, "Ohio's First University." The secondary medallion, at the back of the chain, is the University seal, Smaller medallions, replicas of the two center portions of the University seal, are interspersed alternately with the chain's links. The Seal of Office was created for the inauguration of President Emeritus Robert Glidden in 1994 and will be passed on to future presidents of Ohio University.