Baylor University

Upcoming Events
No events found.

An Insider's Guide to Baylor Inaugurations

Sept. 13, 2010

As you enjoy the activities celebrating the inauguration of Kenneth Winston Starr as Baylor University's 14th president, you will see and hear about a number of traditional ceremonial elements. Here's an insider's guide to a few of these:

*During an "inauguration" celebration, a presidential "installation" is conducted. Inauguration is a broad term referring to the full range of activities involved with publicly welcoming a new president. The ceremony held to confer a new president with the articles and symbols of office, by contrast, is called an installation.

*The processional for Judge Starr's installation ceremony will include representatives of colleges and universities from around the world. It's a long-standing tradition that institutions of higher education both send and receive representatives to inaugurations. At Baylor inaugurations, academic representatives are placed in the processional in the chronological order of their institution's founding date. As an example, a representative from Harvard (1636) would be placed ahead of a representative from Yale (1701).

*As a representation of our rich history, the Baylor Mace will be carried as part of the processional. The mace consists of three joined elements. The first is a gold-hilted sword presented to Cyrus Alexander Baylor, the brother of University namesake Judge R.E.B. Baylor, by President Andrew Jackson for bravery in battle. The second element is a gold-headed walking cane presented to Baylor President Rufus C. Burleson by his students in 1860. The third element is a gold-headed walking cane that belonged to General Sam Houston. Immediately beneath the three elements is a three-dimensional Baylor seal in bronze mounted on the staff, which is milled from a timber taken from Old Main.

*Visitors to an academic ceremony such as a presidential installation will notice some faculty, alumni, guests and program participants garbed in a variety of robes, hoods, sashes and head coverings of many different colors. Academic dress traces its beginnings to the Middle Ages. In 1895, the Intercollegiate Commission specified a code that was adopted by institutions of higher learning to standardize the academic regalia worn by faculty and graduates. It has stood virtually unchanged to the present time, and provides for regalia varied in style and color based on the degrees, major field of study and alma mater of the wearer.

*A tradition that will debut at Judge Starr's installation will be the presentation of unique Baylor presidential regalia. After entering the Ferrell Center in his personal Juris Doctor regalia, Starr will change into new presidential regalia during the ceremony. The presidential regalia includes a robe in a distinctive color of green with four chevrons on the sleeve, instead of the three chevrons found on doctoral regalia.

*The Baylor Presidential Medallion features an artistic rendering of the Baylor seal on one side, while the reverse side is a design centered around a representation of the Baylor Mace. This year, the medallion will feature a chain of office, a series of small metal tablets bearing the names and dates of service of all Baylor presidents. The chain also incorporates two smaller medallions featuring the star and motto from the Baylor seal.

Looking for an older article? Visit our archives.