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The Mace


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.

The panels

  • 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 shaft

  • 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.