Procession & Traditions - Dallas College Commencement

​​The Academic Procession

 

At colleges and universities, academic degrees are conferred at commencement exercises. Originally, the term "commencement" meant the inception of the student graduate as a teacher and their recognition as such by the master teacher and other members of the profession. Thus, the term once marked an actual beginning.

The processional and recessional of students and faculty dressed in academic regalia is a traditional part of these commencement exercises. The history of academic dress goes back to the medieval universities. In the 12th and 13th centuries, when universities were taking form, the dress of a scholar, whether student or teacher, was the same as a cleric. With few exceptions, this is because medieval scholars were likely to be affiliated with a religious order and adapted the regalia of monasteries to the academic setting. As a result, those studying wore a habit or cloak to which was attached a cowl or hood which could be pulled up over the head or thrown back, according to weather conditions. Later, the gown served the dual purpose of providing warmth in the unheated halls as well as uniformity of dress. Today, academic regalia includes three standard items of dress: the gown, the cap and the hood.

The Gown

The flowing gown symbolizes the democracy of scholarship, since it covers clothes that would otherwise indicate the rank and social status of an individual. Gowns commonly worn in the colleges and universities of this country have pointed sleeves for the bachelor’s and associate degree, long closed sleeves (with a slit for the arm) for the master’s degree and bell-shaped, open sleeves for the doctoral degree. The bachelor’s and master’s gowns have no trimming. The gown for the doctoral degree is faced down the front with black velvet and three bars of the same across the sleeves, or these facings and cross bars may be of velvet of the color distinctive of the faculty or subject to which the degree pertains. You may observe these differences in gowns among faculty, while graduates at Dallas College wear a royal blue gown to represent the unity of academic experiences across disciplines.

The Cap

The cap, also known as a mortarboard, is a symbol of academic freedom. According to legend, enslaved Romans received the privilege of wearing a cap after their freedom. It is an essential part of the academic dress and is worn during the academic procession and for the entirety of the ceremony. The cap also features a tassel that may designate honors or other academic designation, as noted in Special Recognition. While there is no general rule for the placement of the tassel, numerous institutions have adopted the practice of instructing graduates to wear tassels on the right-front side before degrees are conferred and to shift them to the left at the moment when degrees are awarded to them. This is the practice at Dallas College and serves as a substitute for individual hooding of graduates.

The Hood

The hood seems to have had three uses: a covering, a shoulder cape and a bag for collecting alms. It is believed that when large wigs were worn, the cape part of the hood was cut open in front, and the entire garment, cape and hood proper, was allowed to fall back, producing approximately the effect seen today. After wigs went out of fashion, the original shape was not restored. The master’s hood is longer than the bachelor’s, and the doctoral hood is longer than the master’s. Associate and bachelor’s hoods are the same length, while a bachelor’s hood is traditionally lined with velvet. You may observe these differences in faculty dress, but Dallas College does not include the hood in its graduates' official regalia.

All hoods are lined with silk showing the official colors of the institution that conferred the degree, and all are trimmed in specific widths with velvet signifying the degree as follows:

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

Commencement Traditions

 

Chancellor Medallion

The chancellor medallions highlight a large brass Dallas College seal. Directly above the seal is a brass leaf banner bearing the label of chancellor.

Provost Medallion

The provost medallions highlight a large brass Dallas College seal. Directly above the seal is a brass leaf banner bearing the label of provost.

Mace Bearer

Formal academic processions include a mace bearer, whose metal mace is the symbol of the college’s authority. During medieval times, the function of this person was to defend the chancellor of the college or university. As a result, custom dictates that the mace bearer always be in sight of the chancellor. During the commencement ceremony, the mace is placed on a rack in full view of the audience and easily accessible to the mace bearer. This indicates that the college faculty is present to conduct formal and legal business. Dallas College’s mace bearer is traditionally one of the seven campus presidents. The mace features a large brass Dallas College seal featuring the new college logo, adopted in 2020.

School Gonfalon Marshalls

Gonfalons are ceremonial banners or flags suspended from a crossbar and descended from medieval Italy, where they were used as symbols of the state. They have been adopted by many colleges and universities to enhance the ceremonial nature of the commencement exercises and to designate each of the groups within a college. Dallas College is presenting its inaugural gonfalons, which feature a red flag to stand out among the sea of blue gowns. Each gonfalon features the Dallas College logo, school name and a unique trim color.

At Dallas College, there are seven schools that represent a collective of programs. The schools are:

  • School of Business, Hospitality and Global Trade – Green
  • School of Creative Arts, Entertainment and Design – Russet
  • School of Education – Purple
  • School of Engineering, Technology, Mathematics and Sciences – Tan
  • School of Health Sciences – Light Blue
  • School of Law and Public Service – Royal Blue
  • School of Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies – Brown
  • Career Connected Learning – Charcoal Gray