Mace of Authority
The use of ceremonial maces at The University of Texas at Austin dates back to Commencement 1956, when late professor Dr. Carl Eckhart created three maces using wood from the Old Main Building, the site of the university’s opening ceremonies in 1883. The building had been razed, but using its wood ensured that traditions of the past would not be forgotten.
Ceremonial maces derive from maces used as weapons in the Middle Ages. The first maces consisted of a heavy staff or club, wholly or partly of metal and often spiked, used to break armor. The earliest ceremonial maces are believed to have been carried by sergeants-at-arms who protected kings in France and Germany. Over the centuries maces became more decorative and symbolic. Maces are part of ceremonial traditions in the U.S. House of Representatives and the British House of Commons.
The university has more than 40 maces, most of which are used each year in Commencement ceremonies. Each college or school has its own mace, which is carried by a marshal during the Commencement procession and then placed in a prominent place around the stage. Carried in academic processions by the university marshal, the most colorful mace is the Commencement mace with tassels to symbolize each academic discipline in the University.
The Mace of Authority represents the authority vested by the state of Texas through The University of Texas System Board of Regents to the administrative officers of The University of Texas at Austin. The gavel surmounting the mace is a symbol of leadership, the fleur-de-lis evokes the light of learning, and the cornucopia signifies the abundance of knowledge associated with the institution. In the installation of a new president, the Chairman of the Board of Regents passes the Mace of Authority to the new president.
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