Symbols & Traditions

50th anniversary logo

50th anniversary Logo

The 50th anniversary logo was created by the university’s Institutional Marketing team and will be used extensively to promote the celebration. It is designed to complement existing university logos and designs. Please view the 50th anniversary logo usage guide.

Grand Valley s presidential medallion

Grand Valley’s presidential medallion

A new presidential medallion was designed for the occasion of the investiture of President Thomas J. Haas in 2006. It was designed and created by long-time GVSU faculty member, Beverly Seley, professor in the art and design department.

Grand Valley s first presidential medallion

Grand Valley’s first presidential medallion

Grand Valley’s first presidential medallion was divided into four sections that symbolized elements of academia: knowledge, representing wisdom; a laurel wreath, representing truth, integrity, and justice; a scarab beetle, representing tenacity and hard work; and a lamp, representing knowledge.

The Convocation Mace

The Mace

The role of mace bearer is ceremonial, deriving from medieval times in England when officials taking office or opening their courts felt the need for protection. Since the 16th century in England, and in America since colonial days, it has been a symbol of office only.

In commencement ceremonies, it is carried by a distinguished member of the faculty who usually precedes the entire procession. Its placement in, and removal from, a designated place of honor signify the opening and closing of ceremonial sessions.

The Grand Valley State University mace was used for the first time in the 1983 commencement ceremonies. The mace was designed by Beverly Seley, professor in the art and design department at Grand Valley and executed by students in her metalsmithing class.

Convocation Cap and Gown

The Cap and Gown
The distinctive and colorful gowns worn during academic ceremonies originated in medieval European universities. In the 14th century, their use had become so common that universities, including Oxford University in England, required their faculty to wear them in public places. Gowns may have been necessary for warmth in the unheated buildings used by medieval scholars, or they may reflect the strong ties that existed then between academic and religious institutions. 

In the late 19th century, American universities formed a commission that prepared a code for academic costumes. That code has been updated and is used today by most colleges and universities. Academic dress consists of a gown, cap, and hood, which indicate the degree held by the wearer and the college or university that awarded that degree. Gowns: The gown for the bachelor’s degree has pointed sleeves and is worn closed in front. It may be black, but is often the color of the university. The gown for the master’s degree is typically black and has longer oblong sleeves, with a large section that hangs below the wrist. These are still used today to store a variety of useful objects. The doctor’s gown is very full and has large, full sleeves. The front is trimmed in velvet, and there are three bars of velvet on each sleeve. The velvet may be black or may be the color of the wearer’s degree. Although the standard doctor’s gown is black, many American universities have adopted gowns that have one or more of the school colors. Some of these gowns in the academic procession today could be from the University of Michigan (light blue with gold piping), Michigan State University (green), Harvard University (red), and Duke University (blue).

A holder of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree wears the dark blue of philosophy no matter what his or her specialty is.

The satin lining of the hood represents the colors of the college or university that granted the degree. Look for the light blue and white of Grand Valley State University, the green and white of Michigan State University, the maize and blue of the University of Michigan, and the red and gray of The Ohio State University.

Hoods: Master’s and doctor’s degree holders wear a hood draped over the shoulders and back. Both are trimmed in velvet of a color that signifies the wearer’s degree. Some common colors you might see in the procession are:

• Agriculture – Maize
• Arts, Letters, Humanities – White
• Commerce, Accountancy, Business – Drab
• Dentistry – Lilac
• Economics – Copper
• Education – Light Blue
• Engineering – Orange
• Fine Arts – Brown
• Foreign Service – Blue
• Forestry – Russet
• Journalism – Crimson
• Law – Purple
• Library Science – Lemon
• Medicine – Green
• Music – Pink
• Nursing – Apricot
• Oratory (Speech) – Silver Gray
• Pharmacy – Olive Green
• Philosophy – Dark Blue
• Physical Education – Sage Green
• Public Administration – Peacock
• Public Health – Salmon Pink
• Science – Yellow
• Social Work – Citron
• Theology – Scarlet
• Veterinary Science – Gray

Caps: Also known as mortarboards, caps complete the academic costume. The standard cap is flat and square with a tassel fastened to the center of the stiff top. Bachelor’s and master’s tassels are black or the color of the gown. Doctor’s tassels are shorter and gold. Once the bachelor’s degree is conferred, the tassel is worn on the left. In recent years, some American universities have adopted soft velvet caps for holders of their doctor’s degrees.

Past Logos

Old GVSU Logo

Old GVSU Logo

Old GVSU Logo

William James College

William James College

Old GVSU Logo

Old GVSU Logo

Old GVSU Logo

Old GVSU Logo

Old GVSU Logo

Page last modified February 13, 2017