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Symbols of the Office

  • Symbols of the Office

    The Mace

    The mace, generally made of wood and clad with metal, was used as a weapon during the Middle Ages. Later, the mace became a symbol of authority.

    The ceremonial mace of SUNY Erie, which is carried in the procession, represents the authority of the President of the college as vested in him or her by the Board of Trustees and the State University of New York. The mace is present at college events such as commencements and inaugural processions and ceremonies.

    SUNY Erie’s mace, which is on display in the President’s Board and Conference Room at City Campus, was presented to the college at commencement exercises in June 1966 by Spencer Kittinger, chairman of the Board of Trustees. The mace was designed and handcrafted especially for SUNY Erie, or Erie County Technical Institute as it was known at the time, by artisans of the Kittinger Furniture Company. The mace is topped with a bronze piece inscribed with the seal of Erie County Technical Institute, and has the names of each of the presidents inscribed on its surface. The most senior faculty member traditionally carries the mace and leads the procession in the college’s ceremonial events.

    The President's Medallion

    The President’s Medallion is one of the grand traditions of higher education. It is an honorable and traditional academic symbol of the authority and responsibility of the presidency. Typically, the President’s Medallion is presented at the President’s Inauguration signaling the beginning of a newly appointed president’s tenure in office. The medallion with which the President is invested in the inaugural ceremony is an emblem of office worn on official occasions of the college.

    Academic Regalia

    Distinctive academic dress can be traced back to the universities of the Middle Ages where the wearing of the caps and gowns by participants in academic functions originated because colleges were damp and drafty. In the early centuries, the academic robe was worn as daily garb, but today its use has been reserved for special ceremonial occasions. Hoods were worn because many of the professors were monks who protected their shaved heads from wintry drafts. Through the years their style, color and purpose have changed.

    Today, academic attire serves as an identifying symbol. The bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s gowns differ in styling. Hoods, which also differ in styling, indicate by their colors the degree, discipline, and the university granting the degree. The mortar board cap is the most common style worn but only those with a doctor’s degree are entitled to wear a gold tassel on the cap.

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