A word that dates back to the mid-16th century, an “inauguration”
is a rite of passage marking a “formal or ceremonial induction to
an office or dignity.” Official collegiate presidential inaugurations
in the United States originated with the nation’s nine colonial
colleges in the 17th century and established the custom of formally acknowledging
a change in leadership at a school’s highest level, within a context
of continuity and tradition. At Rutgers, Abraham Bruyn Hasbrouck, the
university’s sixth president who served from 1840 to 1850, was
the first Rutgers president to be installed in what would be considered
an inauguration ceremony. Over the years, inaugurations at Rutgers have
offered an opportunity for the university community to unite in common
purpose, to reflect on the past, and to envision a brighter future.
The origins of the academic regalia
and other ceremonial objects used during inaugurations and other major
university events, such as commencement, can be traced back to the world’s
oldest institutions of higher learning. The following describes some of
these objects and their histories.
The Coat of Arms of
The State University of New Jersey
The shield of the Rutgers
coat of arms appears on the university gonfalon, which is borne at the
head of all university processions by a faculty member.
The shield is quartered to represent in armorial bearings the founding
and the growth of the more than 230-year-old university. The first quarter (dexter, or right upper quarter of the shield as one would carry it) bears the arms of Nassau, the House of Orange, and recognizes
the Dutch settlers who founded the college under the aegis of the Dutch
The armorial devices in the upper sinister quarter are those of George
III combined with Queen Charlotte’s. George’s arms represent
his dominions of England, Scotland, and Ireland; the two small escutcheons, centered, his ancestral right
to bear the arms of Brunswick and Saxony. The crest on the dexter small
escutcheon is the Crown of Charlemagne, which George III as Treasurer
of the Holy Roman Empire was entitled to show. It was George III who granted
the Charter of 1766 to Queen’s College, named in honor of Charlotte
of Mecklenburg, King George’s consort.
The arms shown on the sinister half of this quarter are Queen Charlotte’s
and represent the German states ruled by the House of Mecklenburg.
The third quarter, dexter, is the emblem from the Great Seal of the State
of New Jersey, which Rutgers as the state university is entitled to show.
Fittingly, the plows depicted also symbolize Rutgers’ designation
as one of the original land-grant colleges.
The fourth quarter, sinister, is the coat of arms of Colonel Henry Rutgers,
an early benefactor of what was then known as Queen’s College. Colonel
Rutgers was a descendant of Rutger Van Schoenderwoerdt, who settled in
New York in the 17th century. The family name was changed to Rutgers
in 1636. The name of the college was changed in 1825 to honor Colonel
Rutgers, trustee and benefactor.
BACK TO TOP
The University Mace
The university mace,
an ornamental staff symbolizing the president’s authority, is borne
before the president in academic processions by the secretary of the university.
The design of the Rutgers mace incorporates signs of the institution’s
traditions and present status as New Jersey’s state university.
The head of the mace bears the university’s coat of arms and its
seal worked in colored enamel and gold on silver, all surmounted by a
facsimile of the crown of Queen Charlotte, for whom the university was
originally named “Queen’s.” The long shaft is made of
stained wood and silver on which are engraved intertwining ivy leaves,
symbolizing learning; red oak leaves, representing New Jersey’s
state tree; and violets, the state flower.
BACK TO TOP
The Academic Costume
The wearing of academic
dress dates back to the early days of the oldest universities in the world.
In the American Council on Education’s book entitled American
Universities and Colleges, it is suggested that “Gowns may
have been counted necessary for warmth in the unheated buildings frequented
by medieval scholars. Hoods seem to have served to cover the tonsured
head. . . .”
Throughout the years, European universities have continued to show great
diversity in their academic dress. American universities, on the other
hand, when they decided to adopt academic dress, immediately established
a code of regulations which today is followed by almost all American institutions.
The establishment of this code has made it possible to distinguish the
bachelors, masters, and doctors and, at the same time, recognize the university
which has given them the degree.
bachelor’s gown has pointed sleeves and is worn closed. The master’s
gown, worn open or closed, has oblong sleeves, the front part of which
frequently is cut away at the elbow. The doctor’s gown has bell-shaped
sleeves. It is worn open or closed. Cotton poplin or similar material
is used for the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and rayon
or silk ribbed material is used for the doctor’s degree.
At Rutgers, members of the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, as well as those who hold a doctoral degree from the university, wear the Rutgers gown, which is scarlet with black velvet front panels framed on the outer edge with gold cord braid. The velvet panels are embroidered with a crown and the year 1766 at the neck, signifying the university's founding as one of the original colonial colleges under King George III of England.
hoods vary in size: 48 inches for the doctor’s degree, 42 inches
for the master’s, and 36 inches for the bachelor’s. All hoods
are lined in silk in the academic color or colors of the institution conferring
the degree. If the institution has more than one color, the colors are
shown in divisions using chevrons. The binding or edge of the hood is
usually made of velvet in the color designating the subject in which the
degree was granted.
Below is a list of some of the faculty colors as prescribed by the Intercollegiate
Code for the binding of the hood:
Agriculture / Maize
Arts, Letters, Humanities / White
Business Administration, Commerce / Drab
City and Regional Planning / Brown
Communication and Information Studies / Gray
Economics / Copper
Education / Light Blue
Engineering / Orange
Fine Arts, Architecture / Brown
Human Resources Management / Dusk
Journalism / Dark Crimson
Labor and Employment Relations / Peacock Blue
Law / Purple
Library Service / Lemon
Medicine / Green
Music / Pink
Nursing / Apricot
Oratory-Speech / Silver Gray
Pharmacy / Olive Green
Philosophy / Blue
Physical Education / Sage Green
Public Administration / Peacock Blue
Science / Golden Yellow
Social Service / Citron
Theology and Divinity / Scarlet
The color or colors
of the lining of the hood for the nine colonial colleges are: scarlet,
Rutgers; crimson, Harvard; green-gold-silver, William and Mary; blue,
Yale; red-blue, Pennsylvania; orange-black, Princeton; light blue-white,
Columbia; brown, Brown; and green-white, Dartmouth.
mortarboards or soft hats are worn for all degrees. The gold tassel signifies
a doctoral degree.
BACK TO TOP
Banks of the Old Raritan
My father sent me to old Rutgers,
And resolv’d that I should be a man;
And so I settled down, in that noisy college town,
On the banks of the Old Raritan.
Then sing aloud to
And keep the Scarlet in the van;
For with our motto high, Rutgers name shall never die
On the banks of the Old Raritan.
From New Jersey’s
northern lakes and mountains,
To our southern pines and gleaming shore;
Learning’s fair and hallowed place, joins us,
every creed and race,
And we praise the name of Rutgers evermore.
BACK TO TOP
On the banks of the old Raritan, my friends,
Where old Rutgers evermore shall stand;
For has she not stood since the time of the flood,
On the banks of the old Raritan.