Ceremonial garments worn at academic functions take their meaning from the original centers of learning of the Western world in the Church of the Middle Ages. Caps, hoods, and gowns of the early students and monks have been held through the centuries to be traditionally symbolic of the scholarly devotion so basic to education and to the deliberate and orderly evolution of knowledge.
The academic regalia worn in ceremonies such as commencement is representative of the degree being conferred, the field of learning for that degree, and the institution from which the degree was earned. The following are descriptions of the regalia used at Waynesburg University.
Gown/Robe: There are three styles of robes and each style distinguishes the level of degree earned. Associate's and bachelor's degree robes have pointed sleeves and are black. Master's level robes are black, have an oblong sleeve which is open at the wrist with the base hanging down, and the rear part of the oblong is cut square while the front arc cuts away. Doctoral gowns are also black and much fuller with bell-shaped sleeves, and trimmings include velvet panels down the front and three bars of velvet on the sleeves. The velvet is typically black; however, it can be in the color representative of the field of study.
Mortarboard or Cap: Mortarboards are black and flat at the top. Mortarboards have four sides and typically have a tassel with a single button at the top. The tassel is in the color of the field of study of the degree granted. Tassels are worn on the right side and shifted to the left after the degree has been conferred.
Tam: Tams are used for doctoral degrees. Tams are made from black velvet. The number of sides varies and can be six- or eight-sided depending on which the University prefers. Tams are "poofed" at the top instead of flat and come with a tassel, usually in a gold bullion color with one or two buttons.
Hood: Academic hoods are black and made from the same fabric as the gown. They vary in length depending on the degree (from three feet to four feet), and the doctoral hood is wider. Lined with college or university colors, they typically have one field color and one chevron color. The edges of the hoods are velvet and in the color of the degree's field of study. Hoods are worn by master's and doctoral level candidates at Waynesburg University.
Colors: The colors used on the trimmings of doctoral gowns, the edging of hoods, and the tassels of caps, are associated with the different disciplines of learning.
Waynesburg University's standard colors include:
Tassels are worn on the right side and shifted to the left after the degree has been conferred.
(Information gathered of history on the website www.academicapparel.com.)
The University Mace
The academic scepter, or mace, was one of the earliest distinctive signs of medieval university officials. The mace was originally a wooden staff and was carried by royal messengers or the parish official who was responsible for ushering and preserving order at civil functions. The early wooden staff evolved in the 14th century into an elaborate silver mace. It was carried by the parish official during processions and graduation ceremonies and was displayed as a symbol to command order during classes. In the 15th century, it became symbolic of academic dignity.
The first Waynesburg College mace was donated by then Board of Trustees member the Rev. Dr. Kirk Hudson and his wife Cally. The Hudsons commissioned James and Carol Randolph to design and execute the mace. The project took two years to design and complete. It incorporated wood and other materials from several buildings on campus as well as symbols reflecting the college and community of Waynesburg. The mace was presented to the academic dean and was used for the first time in the inauguration ceremony for President Dr. J. Thomas Mills in 1983. This original mace is now on display in the Paul R. Stewart Museum in Miller Hall.
In 2007, when Waynesburg was approved for status change from College to University, a new mace was commissioned. This new mace was created by The Medallic Art Company, Danbury, Connecticut, and incorporates the university seal on all four sides. The Mace is carried by the Faculty Marshal leading the procession in all academic ceremonies throughout the year.
Processional and Recessional
The Processional begins at the southeast corner of Fountain Park, continues diagonally through the park and up the sidewalk from the corner of College Street to the front lawn of Miller Hall. The Faculty Marshal leads the procession followed by the graduate candidates, then the administration and faculty. At the front of Miller Hall, the graduates split ranks and line the walk, allowing the administration, speakers, and faculty to pass through the middle. This symbolizes the respect and appreciation held for their faculty, administration and special guests. After the administration and faculty pass through, the graduates then proceed to their seats for the ceremony.
The Recessional occurs immediately following the benediction. At this time, the faculty members line the sidewalk of Fountain Park splitting ranks for the graduates to pass through. This is symbolic of the faculty showing respect and recognizing the new graduates as peers and no longer as students.
Miller Hall Lawn
Miller Hall is the second oldest building on the Waynesburg University campus. The construction of Miller Hall began in 1875 under the presidency of A.B. Miller. The bricks for the building were made by students, and their fingerprints can still be seen in many of the bricks.
The students are welcomed to the Waynesburg University campus family upon their enrollment and matriculation at the beginning of their education in a ceremony on historic Miller Hall's lawn. Their education progresses full circle and finishes with the Commencement Ceremony where they will receive their diploma on that same historic lawn. The tradition of holding Matriculation and Commencement services on the front lawn of Miller Hall dates back to 1990.
In August of 2012, the first Matriculation service was held in the recently completed Roberts Chapel, beginning a new tradition and clearly centering Christ in the foundation of the education obtained at Waynesburg University. Following the service, the newly matriculated freshmen gather on the front steps for their first class photo.