Academic Regalia History | Commencement | The University of Vermont(title)

The Academic Costume

The Academic Costume

Academic regalia worn today in U.S. colleges and universities is a survivor of the Middle Ages. The University of Vermont was among the first in this country to experiment with the use of academic gowns, requiring their wearing at the graduation of 1806. The experiment was not repeated until mid-century when UVM and other college began wholeheartedly to use the medieval scholar’s clothing for ceremonial occasions.

The code regulating the academic costume is administered by an intercollegiate commission that establishes uniform standards.

  • Bachelor's degree gowns have closed fronts and long, printed sleeves
  • Master's degree gowns may be worn open or closed and have oblong sleeves open at the wrist, the lower portion hanging down with an arc near the bottom
  • Doctoral degree gowns may be open or closed and have velvet facings and three velvet bars on the round, open sleeves. The facing and bars may be of black or the official colors of the wearer’s department of learning.

Hoods are usually black. All are lined in silk in the academic color or colors of the institution conferring the degree, with a chevron for additional colors. A University of Vermont hood is lined with green, with a gold chevron, the official school colors. The color of the hood border indicates the degree earned.

The black mortarboard is worn for all degrees. Only doctoral caps may be made of velvet and only doctors or presidents of institutions may wear a gold tassel on the cap.

Additional Regalia

Class of 1927 Memorial Mace

The Class of 1927 Memorial Mace is carried by the University Marshal at formal university occasions and is displayed on the platform during these ceremonies.

The mace, a gift from the Class of 1927, is forty-seven inches long, cast bronze, plated in silver, with a black ebony handle. Four images symbolic of the university surround the crown of the staff with the university seal engraved on top.

The mace was designed and the model sculpted by Richard Simpson, son of Carl G. and Doris Griffith Simpson, both members of the class of 1927. The image of the center section of Old Mill with Mt. Mansfield in the background symbolizes the founding of the University.

The image of Ira Allen Chapel, symbolizes spiritual guidance.

The image of three students reaching upwards to a lamp is symbolic of learning.

The image of a group of four people, symbolizes friendship.

President's Medallion

The President’s Medallion is symbolic of the office and its indication of authority can be traced to the Middle Ages.

Imprinted on the silver medallion worn by the president is the university seal.

The motto on the seal literally means “For virtuous studies and matters.” The medallion was presented to the university by former UVM president Lattie Coor upon his departure in 1989.

The University Seal

The University seal was adopted in 1807 and used until 1871 when it was replaced by a round seal incorporating the name of the College of Agriculture. In 1975 the Board of Trustees voted to restore the original seal to official use, modified to incorporate the Latin name of the College of Agriculture. The motto on the seal is from Horace, Epistles 1.2.36. Literally it means “For virtuous studies and matters.” In allusion to Horace’s poem it reflects UVM’s continuing belief in the utility and practicality of all liberal studies.