Graduation Ceremony Enhanced by Ceremonial Adornments
In May, South Florida State College added pomp, grandeur, and visual continuity to the first commencement exercises it observed since its change of name by introducing several new traditional ceremonial adornments: a mace, the president’s chain of office, a new commencement backdrop, and a podium seal.
Lynn MacNeill, professor of oral communication and the longest-serving college employee, was the first to carry and present the college’s new mace during graduation. The mace features a 6-inch rendering of the college seal, which is accentuated with blue and orange enameling. It sits on an alder wood staff that is 36 inches tall with a handle ranging from 1 1/2 inches to 7 inches in diameter.
The staff has special significance because it was carved by Norm Church, a 26-year college employee and professor of carpentry, who works on the maintenance staff. Church presented several design samples to administrators, and made a full-scale drawing of the one chosen. He then carved the wood, stained it with a walnut stain, and applied 10-15 coats of clear finish. The woodworking process took about three days.
“The challenge was to make the piece the same size as the drawing and make it fit correctly with the top of the mace,” Church said. “I enjoyed making it. It was fun. It was an honor to be asked to make it and see it at graduation.”
Originally, maces were weapons carried by kings and bishops into battle. In the 13th century, King Philip II of France and King Richard I of England began the practice of allowing maces to be carried by their sergeant-at-arms in processions to their official functions. By the 14th century, governing bodies and colleges began creating their own unique maces, which were displayed when the institution was officially in session. Over the next 100 years, maces evolved into ornate and highly symbolic objects of art. Colleges and universities use maces at commencement to reflect their history, affirm their authority as an institution of higher learning, and express a commitment to their educational mission.
A new chain of office, worn by the SFSC president at commencement, was created by Medallic Art, the historic company that produced the original design and sculpt for the Lincoln penny. The 3-inch circular medallion, featuring the college seal, was hand-crafted by Medallic sculptors and die cast. The outer circle of the seal, containing the college name, is accented by midnight blue enamel, while the interior circle, containing SFSC’s core values, is accented by orange enamel. Other designs in the medallion are rendered in burnished bronze. Names of the current and past presidents and their terms of service are engraved on decorative links in the chain. A nearly identical President Emeritus medallion is also being crafted by Medallic for Dr. Norm Stephens to wear at SFSC’s future commencement ceremonies.
A 10-foot by 15-foot commencement backdrop displaying the college seal was hung on the stage. New England Flag and Banner, of Boston, Mass., created the custom backdrop by hand-sewing applique on a double layer of 200 denier nylon fabric. Since 1892, the company has produced hand-sewn backdrops and banners for clients such as Harvard University, Yale University, Boston College, and national sports teams.
The college seal, accented in blue, orange, and gold in the same style as the presidential chain of office, was reproduced for display on the podium by B.J. Trophies Awards and Gifts of Ocala.
A new college backdrop added prestige to Commencement.
The college seal was recreated for the podium in a design matching the mace and president’s chain of office.