CEREMONY AND REGALIA
In this commencement ceremony you will witness candidates, faculty and university administrators participating in a traditional academic ceremony that dates back to 12th-century Europe. The Auburn Montgomery commencement ceremony begins with the Procession of Candidates led by the Graduates' Marshal. The Procession of Faculty follows, led by the General Faculty Marshal. University leaders, both academic and administrative, march together as the Dais Party enters, led by the Grand Marshal. The procession manifests a collegiality of thought and action while maintaining appropriate distinctions between colleagues, symbolized by gown, cap, hood, tassel, cords, insignia and gonfalon.
The Gown: For warmth in the cold, damp buildings, medieval men and women typically wore long gowns over a full dress of clothing. Gradually distinctive gowns for various professions, trades and religious orders were developed. As the medieval guilds evolved into universities, gowns were distinctive for the apprentices (bachelors) and the teachers (masters and doctors). The gown is traditionally black for all degrees. Gowns have pointed sleeves for the bachelor's degree, long closed sleeves with a slit in the arm or wrist for the master's degree, and full bell double sleeves for the doctor's degree. The bachelor's and master's degree gowns have no trim. For the doctor's degree, the gown is faced down the front with velvet and has three bars of velvet across the sleeves, often in the color appropriate for the discipline in which the degree was conferred. The gown is a symbol of the democracy of scholarship, for it covers any differentiation of dress due to social or economic status.
The Hood: The hood originated in the cowls worn around the necks of medieval friars. The cowl could be pulled up over the head for warmth as they begged for alms in the marketplace. Today it is a purely ornamental article, draped over the shoulder and down the back of the wearer. In Auburn Montgomery's ceremony the hood is worn only by individuals who have earned a master's or doctor's degree. The hood is lined with the official colors of the university or college conferring the degree, usually with one color forming a chevron above the other. The hood is edged and bound with velvet of the color appropriate for the discipline. The candidates for master's degrees in this ceremony are wearing the Auburn Montgomery hood lined with orange and one black ch
evron. The colors appropriate for some of the disciplines are:
The Cap: When Roman law freed a slave, it accorded to the freeman the privilege of wearing a cap. And so the academic cap has come to signify the freedom of scholarship and the responsibility and dignity with which scholarship endows the wearer. Old poetry refers to the cap of scholarship as square, symbolizing the book. The cap of scholarship is to be worn level on the head held high in pride. You may notice that some of our faculty or administrators holding a doctor's degree are wearing a tam rather than a cap. As holders of the highest degree conferred, they have the choice of wearing either style.
The Tassel: The tassel is fastened to the middle point of the top of the cap or tam. At commencement, candidates wear the tassel on the right side, moving it to the left when the degrees are conferred. Participants holding doctor's degrees may wear a metallic gold tassel.
The Cords: The highest grade point average a student can earn is 4.0. Some graduates are wearing gold cords to signify exceptional academic achievement and a grade point average of 3.4 or higher. Students graduating summa cum laude have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.8; those graduating magna cum laude have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.6; and those graduating cum laude have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.4. Other students may be wearing cords of other colors or designs that indicate their membership in an honorary scholastic or Panhellenic organization. The University Honors Program students wear white cords. Chancellor's Scholars, recipients of Auburn Montgomery's highest award for scholarship and service, wear a medallion hanging from a orange and black ribbon.
The Insignia: Ceremonial insignia was developed to symbolize leadership. The administrative leader of Auburn Montgomery wears the Presidential Medallion developed by a faculty committee and approved by the Auburn University Board of Trustees in March 1966. A quotation from "The Leaders of the Crowd" by William Butler Yeats is engraved on the front of the gold medallion. The quotation, "Truth flourishes where the student's lamp has shone," encircles a lamp of knowledge and is surrounded by sunburst rays. The AU seal is etched in ultramarine blue on the back of the medal and underneath is engraved "President's Badge of Office."
The Gonfalon: The flag hanging from a crossbar originated in medieval Italy as an ensign of state or office. The gonfalon of Auburn Montgomery, displaying the school colors of orange and black, is carried by the Grand Marshal. The colorful flag enhances the pageantry of the academic processional. Decorating the dais are the gonfalons of the five academic schools.
As you witness this most honored ceremony, remember the history of the costumes worn and the symbolism of each article. Having reached this height of academic success and thus having earned the right and privilege to be dressed in this symbolic regalia, the wearer is the epitome of personal freedom, responsibility, dignity and academic accomplishment.