the tenth floor of the Woodruff Library, tucked away in a corner
of the Special Collections department, the Emory mace lies enshrined
in a glass case, quietly awaiting Commencement dayits
next opportunity to shine.
the mace leads a sheltered, solitary sort of life; on ordinary
days few even glance its way. But when it does make public appearances,
it finds itself in the thick of it all. On stately occasions,
namely Emorys annual opening Convocation, Charter Day,
Baccalaureate, and Commencement, the scepter-like mace is brought
out of its case by a white-gloved security guard to take its
honored place in the formal academic procession, gleaming amidst
the full regalia of Emorys hooded and gowned officers.
mace has the best social life in town, says University
Archivist Ginger Cain 77C-82G. It goes to
all the best parties, and it usually has a police escort.
bearer is traditionally the bedel of the University, a position
held by the president of the Student Government Association.
This year, the honor falls to Christopher Richardson. The bedel
carries the mace in the crook of his or her arm and immediately
precedes University President William M. Chace, to denote his
mace-bearer seems to have a reverence for the thing and handles
it with caution and caresort of like picking up a newborn
baby, says Gary S. Hauk 91PhD, secretary of the
Emory mace was a gift to the University from D.V.S., the Emory
College senior honor society, presented at Emorys Fiftieth
Anniversary Convocation in 1965. Designed especially for Emory
by Eric Clements, director of the School of Industrial Design
at the University of Birmingham, England, with the guidance
of George P. Cuttino, University chief marshal from 1976 until
1984, it was executed in silver and gold by the Worshipful Company
of Goldsmiths in London.
who died in 1991, was famous for his passionate devotion to
the heraldry of Commencement. Of all his designs, Cuttino
is perhaps proudest of the University mace, read a 1994
article on Commencement in Campus Report. He was very
protective of the mace, Cain says.
like a teardrop, at its apex the mace bears a relief rendering
in gold of a skeleton: Emorys beloved Dooley, campus lord
of misrule. In the teardrop is a golden sphere divided into
eight segments, originally intended to represent the schools
of the UniversityEmory and Oxford colleges, business,
dentistry, the graduate school, law, medicine, nursing, and
theology. Atop the sphere is a simple cross, symbolizing the
ties between Emory and the Methodist Church; within the circular
base is the seal of the University.
an aging dignitary, the mace may not get out much, but when
it does, it travels in high style. In 1970, the Emory mace was
invited to appear in Maces: An Exhibition of American
Ceremonial Academic Scepters, held at the Duke University
Museum of Art in honor of the inauguration of President Terry
Sanford. The mace, says Cain, had its own plane ticket and its
own seat for the trip.
academic mace is a direct descendant of medieval staffs: the
regal scepter and the battle-mace. In contrast to the
cultured and spiritual baculum [staff], writes
curator William H. Heckescher in the 1970 Duke exhibition program,
the mace began its career as a crude club. Aggressive,
phallic, and unrefined as it began, it never entirely lost those
characteristics, in spite of later modifications . . . at some
moment in the fourteenth century . . . it is fashioned to look
like a regal scepter, and to behave like one.
academic institutions, the mace is a symbol of authority and
autonomy from outside entities, both political and religious.
Above all, says Heckescher, it was regarded
as a manifestation of the immortal dignity of the
me, says Hauk, the presence of the mace on the mace
table at Commencement is a good reminder of the long history
of universities in the West. The mace is sort of like a wedding
ring in the old language of the sacramentsan outward
sign of an inward and invisible grace. Its descent from
an ancestor that could be used as a weapon makes it now like
a sword beaten into a plowshare. I never look at it without
being reminded of those scholars who, nearly a thousand years
ago, gathered in Paris and Bologna and Oxford to create intellectual
order out of the riot of medieval life.P.P.P.