Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

Historic event filled with tradition

Pomp of robes, chains link ceremony to past inaugurations

With a large number of distinguished robe-wearers convening around the IU Auditorium tomorrow, an unknowing passerby might think he has stumbled upon the filming of the next Harry Potter movie.\nIn spite of the robes and an impressive-looking, jewel-encrusted staff taking center stage, there will be no wizardry afoot. \nThe robes are part of the pomp and ceremony behind the inauguration of IU President Adam Herbert and continue a centuries-old tradition in the education world.\nAt IU, robed processions are a staple of Founder's Day, the freshman induction ceremony, commencement and chancellor installations in addition to presidential inaugurations. The tradition of scholars dressing in robes for formal occasions dates to the founding of the first European universities in medieval times.\n"It adds a degree of pageantry," said Dean of Students Richard McKaig.\nFaculty members traditionally wear black robes. The style of the hood and the cut of the gown reflect the highest degree earned by the wearer, and hoods are lined in the colors of the institution and the discipline from which the degree was received. For instance, by looking at McKaig's robe, you would be able to determine he received a doctorate in education from IU.\nIU's trustees will be clad in crimson robes with a cream-colored velvet hood.\nLike a Supreme Court Chief Justice, Herbert is able to design his own robe, which is black with red chevrons on the sleeve.\nBut the most distinctive robe will belong to the event's grand marshal, Dr. Edwin C. Marshall of the School of Optometry. His robe is described as "an elaborate white satin brocade robe adorned with a golden sash." The robe is brand-new and was designed especially for the occasion.\n"I'll be somewhat hard to miss," Marshall said.\nMarshall has represented the School of Optometry many times in the past but has never been the grand marshal for any event. He was contacted by the president's office to fill the role.\n"I considered this a great honor and did not hesitate," Marshall said.\nThe presidential inauguration contains many other wrinkles make it an event unique to IU. Among these are the IU Mace and the IU Jewel and Chain, which will be formally presented to Herbert today.\nThe Mace has a 30-inch long staff of polished ebony encircled with four brass, gold-plated collars and is entwined by swirled gold bands. The brass globe sitting atop the staff has four flat sides. Each side has an engraving -- the IU seal, the state seal, the "IU" symbol and the symbol of Phi Delta Theta, which donated it to the staff in 1949.\nThe globe is also covered with 12 synthetic jewels. Marshall practiced his Mace-carrying role during the inauguration rehearsal. \n"It's not heavy at the outset, but one might imagine it getting heavy over a period of time," Marshall said. "It's like holding anything in a constant position for a period of time."\nHerbert will wear the Jewel and Chain at all official University ceremonies. The chain, donated by Sigma Chi in 1957, is handcrafted of gold-plated sterling silver and contains 44 linked panels. Seven panels are engraved with the names of the presidents who have served the University since the Jewel of Office was first worn as the symbol of the presidency.\nOther parts of the ceremony are more modern. At the post-inauguration reception, the president's favorite type of cookie is served.\nFor Herbert, it is an old-fashioned oatmeal and raisin cookie that will be served alongside cranberry spumante punch.\nMcKaig, who is attending his third inauguration, is pleased with the cookie selection.\n"I salute him for that," McKaig said.\n-- Contact senior writer Alex Hickey at ahickey@indiana.edu.

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe