Beyond Education


Honors Convocation
Reception and
Class Dinner


Travel and


Academic Mace

With the introduction of an academic mace, Thomas College begins a tradition that dates to the medieval era when an armed guard would enforce order at ceremonial academic events. Today the mace symbolizes a more peaceful purpose: authority, strength, and leadership. On any occasion when faculty is assembled in formal academic dress, the academic mace is traditionally carried during the processional and then fixed in a prominent, visible position for the duration of the event.

Thomas College’s academic mace was crafted by master wood carver George Gunning from Windsor, Maine. The mace is made entirely from woods native to Maine. Because Waterville was known for its many elm trees and is referred to as the “Elm City,” the base of the mace is crafted from Red Elm. Butternut wood forms the shaft of the mace, and Rock Maple augments the decorative design and purpose.

Presidential Medallion

The President’s Medallion symbolizes the authority and responsibility of the President and is typically gifted at the Presidential Inauguration, signaling the beginning of a newly appointed tenure in office. Like the Academic Mace, the President's Medallion is part of any ceremony involving academic regalia.

The Thomas College medallion was designed by Portland, Maine jeweler Patricia Daunis-Dunning, and each aspect of the medallion, from the Thomas College oak leaf to the hand engraving, is constructed from native Maine materials.

Academic Heraldry

CAPS – A black mortarboard or Oxford type of cap is usually worn. A soft cap resembling an oversize beret is usually reserved for doctors, but certain universities use a gold tassel to distinguish a doctor’s cap instead. The tassel should be draped over the left front of the cap. Tradition in some schools requires the changing of the tassel from the right to the left at the end of the ceremony.

GOWNS – The bachelor’s simple black gown falls in a straight line from a fairly elaborate yoke and has long, pointed sleeves. There is no adornment, although a few institutions do permit a piping of the school color on the yoke.

Until 1960, the master’s gown had long sleeves with slots at the elbow for the arms. The rest of the sleeve dangled and ended at the knee in a square edge, into which a semi-circle was cut. In 1960, this gown was modified, and an opening was made at the wrist. The doctor’s elaborate gown is either completely made of velvet or has velvet panels around the neck and down the front with three velvet bars on its bell-shaped sleeves. It has a fuller cut than the other two gowns. Paneling and bars may be in color to indicate the faculty or degree. A few universities permit the doctor’s entire gown to be in color.

HOODS – The distinguishing color of the hood tells the most about the wearer. Bachelor’s hoods are three feet long, while master’s are three and one-half feet, and doctor’s are four feet. Hoods are lined in silk with the official colors of the institution granting the degree. Bindings on the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s hoods are two, three, and five inches in width, respectively. The color of the binding indicates the area of study in which the degree was granted.

Thomas College. Beyond Education.