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 Miscellaneous Information

This information is not vital to your attendance or participation in the commencement, but provides some additional information for your enjoyment.

The Alma Mater
The words and musical notes to the Alma Mater sung at every commencement.

The Academic Regalia
A history, reading and symbolic information about the dress worn by graduating students and processional people.

The UMass Dartmouth Mace
A short piece about the Mace brought to all commencements.

The Alma Mater

The words and musical notes to the Alma Mater sung at every commencement.  

al·ma ma·ter or Al·ma Ma·ter (ăl'mə mä'təräl'mə)

  1. The school, college, or university that one has attended.
  2. The anthem of an institution of higher learning.

[From Latin Alma Māter, nourishing mother (epithet of certain goddesses) :alma, feminine of almus, nourishing + māter, mother

From Answers.com: http://www.answers.com/alma+mater&r=67

Alma Mater song image

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Academic Regalia

The ultimate ancestors of the moderninstitution of learning were the great medieval universities, such as those of Paris and Bologna, founded early in the twelfth century (Oxford and Cambridge followed soon after).

Originally, the university was a guild of Masters of Arts, and the degree was the token that full membership had been attained. Even as, after "serving his time," an apprentice was licensed to practice his trade or "master," so the Master of Arts was certified by his superiors and admitted to the practice of instruction and, therefore, the ceremony marking the occasion was known as "Commencement."

The term "Bachelor" originally designated a man who was assistant to a small landowner, and in medieval times denoted the apprentice as opposed to the master workman. It is uncertain when the title of "Doctor" was established as a degree superior to that of "Master," but at Bologna it was conferred in Law in the twelfth century, and Paris gave the degree in Divinity about the same time. There is mention of the "Doctors of the different Faculties" at Oxford in 1184, so that the term was evidently used as a title for those possessing the highest degree of learning soon after the establishment of the first universities.

At that time, everyone - men and women, royalty and commoners - wore gowns; that is, long, full-flowing robes, and the king himself decreed what quality apparel might be worn by whom. After about 1600 they were rarely worn by men other than legal and official personages.

The hood first appeared as a separate article of attire in the thirteenth century, but by 1600 it, like the gown, ceased to be worn at all except by legal, official, academic, and clerical personages.

During the early years of the medieval universities, scholars wore the same general type of clothing as everyone else: gowns, cloaks with hoods attached, or separate hoods and caps. After a while, details of scholars' apparel were prescribed by university statutes to distinguish the faculties as well as the different degrees of learning. When the fashions of the people changed, scholars kept the original styles both because they were prescribed by university statues and "because it is honourable and in accordance with reason that clerks to whom God has given an advantage over the lay folk in their adornments within, should like-wise differ from the lay folk outwardly in dress."

In today's academic procession, the regalia not only contribute pageantry and color, but also provide information about the academic status of their wearers. The cap, or mortarboard, is worn by all academics upon occasion; but only those who hold an academic degree wear the tassel to their left, and only those who hold the Doctor's degree are permitted tassels of gold. Gowns are of three basic patterns: (a) the Bachelor's gown, of unadorned black and with long pointed sleeves; (b) the Master's gown, also of unadorned black but with an oblong sleeve, open at the wrist, square cut with an arc cut away; (c) the Doctor's gown, velvet-faced, with bell-shaped sleeves and bars of velvet on each sleeve.

Hoods are of three shapes and lengths, also corresponding to the degree held by the wearer. Their binding or trim is colored to indicate the department or faculty to which the degree pertains, while the lining is decorated in the colors and arrangement characteristic of the institution which awarded the degree. It should be noted that some institutions depart to a lesser or greater degree from these general rules in the design and execution of their academic regalia.

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Mace Image The UMass Dartmouth Mace

The mace, once a terrible instrument of medieval close combat, has come to symbolize the power and authority of an appointed or anointed leader. Many universities, eager to engage in the medieval pageantry reflecting the origins of our earliest universities, have adapted the mace as a ceremonial staff borne at the head of processions traditionally marking the beginning of convocation and commencement. It is the emblem of authority for presidents and trustees.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Mace, created by Richard Creighton, Professor of Fine Arts, is the gift of the late Vice Chancellor for Student Services Emeritus Celestino Macedo and the late Special Assistant to the President, Norman Zalkind LHD '81.

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