Pomp and Circumstance
Academic traditions play an important role in LHU inauguration
April 18, 2012
The April 27th inauguration of Michael Fiorentino Jr. as the 14th president of Lock Haven University will be a ceremony steeped in academic tradition. The inauguration theme, “Honoring our Past, Embracing our Future,” is embedded in the traditions and protocols of the ceremony itself. Members of the community are invited to attend the inauguration.
Observing a revered tradition of university presidential inaugurations, colleges and universities invited to be represented in the ceremony send formal citations congratulating the president on his inauguration and extending best wishes for success. The citations vary from university to university in appearance and wording, but all epitomize a shared respect for higher education and for the role of the president. In a modern, technological twist on this old tradition, Lock Haven University is scanning these citations as they are received, and is posting them on the inauguration web site. The site has citations from over 85 colleges and universities, public and private, from the entire eastern region of the United States, and beyond.
The Lock Haven University ceremony will begin with a formal academic procession. The centuries-old pageantry of the academic procession dates from traditions rooted in the early universities.
The procession is led by the two Lock Haven University marshals, the senior faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education and Human Services. Each of the marshals carries a mace. In the Middle Ages, the mace was a fierce battle weapon. Over time it lost its war-like image and became a symbol of peaceful leadership. Lock Haven University’s two maces are fashioned from the wood from old Sullivan Hall which once stood on the present site of Stevenson Library. The mace is used during official ceremonies, like the inauguration and graduations.
Banners, a modern adaptation of Medieval heraldry, will indicate the various delegations within the procession. Included in the procession will be delegates from other colleges and universities; alumni; students; faculty, administrative staff and emeriti, and the platform party. The alumni delegation will consist of 57 graduates, representing LHU graduating classes from 1940 – 2011. The alumni will be easily recognized by sashes noting their year of graduation. As a symbolic link between LHU’s past, present and future, each alumnus will be accompanied by a current LHU student leader or student-athlete.
The most colorful of the academic traditions is the academic regalia worn by faculty, administrative staff, emeriti, and delegates from other academic institutions.
The cut of the long gown, derived from the medieval robe, indicates the wearer's degree level. The bachelor's gown, distinguished by its long, pointed sleeves, is worn closed. The master's gown is worn open or closed and has long, cut sleeves with a square base. The doctoral gown, worn either open or closed, has full, round sleeves and is embellished with velvet panels down the front of the gown and with velvet bands on the sleeves. The velvet trim may be black or may indicate the wearer’s field of study.
The traditional head covering is the square mortarboard. Those with doctorates often wear soft four- or six-sided velvet tams, usually with a gold tassel.
Originally worn over the head to protect the monks from weather, the hood has evolved into the most significant part of the academic dress. Worn over the shoulders like a cowl, the hood varies in length and appearance according to the degree of the wearer. The bachelor's hood is three feet in length with a two-inch velvet border. The master's hood is three-and-a-half-feet long with a three-inch border. The doctoral hood is four feet in length with a five-inch border. The lining of the hood bears the colors of the college or university that conferred the wearer’s degree, so that graduates of a particular institution may be recognized in the academic procession. The hood’s velvet borders indicate the wearer’s academic discipline.
In another nod to tradition and protocol, delegates from other colleges and universities process in order of their institution’s founding date, with the oldest first. The LHU inauguration procession will include 30 delegates from other institutions.
The President will be the last person in the academic procession. He will be in academic regalia and will wear the university medallion. The Lock Haven University medallion is a symbol of the office of the president. The handcrafted medallion is a three dimensional sculpture crafted in bronze featuring the university’s original building, Price Hall. The chain bears the names of the university’s thirteen past presidents, as well as the four seals the university has had since its founding in 1870. The president wears the medallion with academic regalia at all formal university ceremonies.
The traditions continue throughout the inauguration ceremony itself.
A number of dignitaries will deliver official greetings on behalf of the groups they represent. These brief greetings are an expression of friendship, respect and support. It is customary for these greetings to include congratulations to the president as he assumes the duties of his new office.
The most significant moment of the ceremony is, of course, the oath of office. Following his swearing in as the 14th President of Lock Haven University, President Fiorentino will deliver his inauguration address.
The ceremony ends with the singing of the alma mater and a recessional.
The formal ceremonies, ended, it will be time for celebration, first in a reception on Ivy Lane and later at the Inauguration Gala in the Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center.
More information about the Lock Haven University inauguration can be found at http://www.lhup.edu/inauguration/index.htm
Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degrees and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.