About the Commencement Ceremony
The Academic ProcessionAn academic procession whose roots reach back into the earliest days of the oldest colleges and universities opened our commencement ceremony today. Representatives of each school and department within Cameron University marched together, preceded by their respective organizational banners, garbed in academic regalia which distinguishes them from their colleagues in other fields of learning.
Like many of our other traditions, the wearing of distinctive regalia began in England. There, in the second half of the 14th Century, the statutes of certain colleges prescribed the wearing of a long gown by faculty and students. Over time, distinctive colors were adopted by each discipline to distinguish them from their colleagues.
Several American universities established of a suitable code of academic dress for this nation. This code, with modifications made in 1959, remains in force. The costumes, colors, trimmings, and patterns you see are all traditional, and reflect both the degree and field of learning.
The bachelor's gown, designed to be worn closed, has pointed sleeves. The master's gown, which may be worn open or closed, has an oblong, open sleeve which hangs down in traditional manner. The doctor's gown has bell-shaped sleeves. It may be worn open or closed.
Bachelor's and master's gowns are untrimmed. The facing and three bars across the sleeves of the doctor's gowns are generally velvet and are either black or coincide with the color of the edging of the hood. The colors you see in the hoods and gowns represent the various fields in which the degrees were earned.
The hoods, which differ in length for the three degrees, are lined with the official colors of the university or college conferring the degree, usually with one color forming a chevron pattern over the other. Hoods are edged and bound with velvet of the color appropriate for the degree. Colors and corresponding fields of study are:
Mortarboards are the most common headgear. The tassel, worn on the left of the cap, may be gold if the holder has a doctor's degree. The Chair of Faculty Senate, Dr. Jim Heflin, leads the procession. Dr. Heflin carries the mace to symbolize the authority of the faculty in academic matters and the practice of shared governance within the university.
During the Middle Ages, the wood mace clad in metal was an effective weapon in battle. As newer and more powerful arms were developed, its military significance diminished and it was transformed into a symbol of authority.
The earliest ceremonial maces were borne by bodyguards of the 12th Century English and French kings. By the end of the 16th Century, they were used widely by officials of English cities and towns. Today, the use of the ceremonial mace is found in the British Houses of Parliament and is carried before ecclesiastical dignitaries and in university ceremonies.
Cameron's mace was designed and created in 1981 by Benson Warren, a member of the Art Department faculty. It is cast in bronze and displays in bas relief the three peaks of the Wichita Mountains from the university's official seal. The Faculty Senate Chair has carried it in the academic procession at each university function since its adoption.
Recognition of Honor Graduates
Graduating baccalaureate and associate degree candidates with superior academic records are accorded special recognition by the university. A student who has achieved a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 graduates "summa cum laude," one whose cumulative grade point average is less than 4.00 but is in the top five percent of the graduating class and has a grade pint average of 3.8 or above graduates, "magna cum laude," and one whose cumulative grade point average is in the next ten percent of the graduating class and has a grade point average of 3.6 or above graduates "cum laude." Degree candidates with such honors are identified in the list of candidates with asterisks as follows:
*** summa cum laude
Membership in The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is open to undergraduate students in all academic disciplines who rank in the upper ten percent of their graduating class and have an overall grade point average of 3.7 or higher. Graduating seniors who are members of Phi Kappa Phi may be identified by the white ribbon worn on the commencement robe. Faculty and staff who are Phi Kappa Phi members are wearing the society's official medallion.
Students, faculty, and staff which are members of the many discipline-specific honor societies are identified in a similar fashion.