The mace, a symbol of authority, was carried by the chair of the Faculty Senate for the first time at Commencement on June 1, 1969, as a symbol of Vanderbilt’s authority to confer degrees.
- Artist: Norah Creswell, artist/jeweler, Edinburgh, Scotland
- Length: 42″
- Weight: 88.39 troy ounces or 7.36 troy pounds
- Shaft: dark rosewood; all other parts, gold-plated silver
Symbols were selected by Robert A. McGaw, then secretary of the university.
- Magnolia Grandifloris was selected because there are so many of them on campus, and they are usually in bloom at Commencement time.
- The tall bearded iris was selected because it is the Tennesssee state flower and because three prominent Vanderbilt individuals were nationally recognized hybridizers of the plant (Kirkland, Connell and Wills).
- The embattled shields suggest the roof line of Kirkland Hall.
- The knockpiece or pendant is a magnolia seed cone.
- The oak leaf is a stylized rendering of the American white oak leaf and acorn and was selected because it appears on the Vanderbilt family coat of arms.