The use of the mace as a metaphor for authority, learning and scholarship, and eternal values is one of the grandest traditions in the history of higher education. The mace is always present during academic ceremonies and symbolizes the sovereignty of the college or university.
The Cedar Crest College Mace was commissioned as the senior gift of the class of '73 to honor the faculty. Joel Bagnal, the Faculty Sponsor of the Class of 1973 and Professor of Art, created the mace in silver and rosewood and contributed the more than 300 hours of bench work required. Mr. Bagnal, who is present at today's Installation Ceremony, writes:
Joel Bagnal represents Boston University, from which he graduated in 1972, at the 2009 Cedar Crest College Presidential Inauguration of Carmen Twilly Ambar.
The history of the ceremonial academic mace can be traced back to the fourteenth century when it developed as a composite of two more ancient objects, the royal scepter and the battle mace. The kingly scepter dates back to Homeric times. Originally a simple staff (acquiring royal decorations only gradually), it was used by judges as the symbol of their authority to represent the king in dispensing justice and by heralds as a sign of their charge to deliver the king's words. Citizens of Greek city-states who wished to address the civic assemblies received the staff from the city's herald as a sign that they had the right to speak without interruption. This authoritative, heraldic function of the staff persisted through late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, when it became, as well, the natural symbol for the university's authority to speak and to pass its authority to others. The mace was traditionally topped with a large ornament symbolic of the institution's history and was carried by a member of the faculty in procession to assert this authority for the institution's official actions.
Academic protocol dictates that the mace is carried by the Grand Marshal. The legal authority of the college is grounded in the intellectual authority of the distinguished faculty who follow in the procession.
Placing the Mace on its stand is a signal that the proceedings are about to come to order; its retirement indicates that the ceremonies are concluded.