What to Expect
The colorful attire worn by the graduates, faculty, and officers of the university has been an integral feature of American commencement pageantry since the end of the nineteenth century. The tradition of wearing the academic gowns, the mortarboard caps, tassels and hoods and the carrying of the mace originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. The gown is held to be an adaptation of the robe of the friar or priest; the hood, the monk's cowl; and the mortarboard cap recalls the skull cap. All of the regalia recalls the days when teachers needed protection against the drafts of unheated medieval classrooms. Today's commencement exercises maintain much of the tradition and pageantry of the early times, when the occasion of commencement included debates and orations given by candidates to demonstrate their knowledge.
The Academic Regalia
The distinctive academic regalia being worn in today's ceremony denotes the wearer's institution, field of study, and degree held.
For each of the degree levels, bachelor's, master's and doctoral, the gown sleeves indicate the degree held by the wearer. The bachelor's gown is a yoked, closed-front garment with long, pointed sleeves. The master's can be worn open or closed and has long sleeves, usually closed but slit above the elbow. The doctoral gown has full, bell-shaped sleeves and is trimmed with velvet panels down the front and has velvet bars on each sleeve. The color of the panels and bars is often varied to indicate the academic discipline in which the doctoral degree was earned.
The mortarboard cap in black is the accepted style of headdress in colleges and universities throughout the United States. Other distinctive and colorful forms of headdress are often found in foreign universities.
An integral part of the headdress is the tassel. Baccalaureate degree candidates wear blue tassels and Master's degree candidates wear gold tassels.
The length and shape of the hood also indicate the highest degree earned by the wearer. Although hoods are available for all three degree levels, the hood for the bachelor is seldom used. The bachelor's hood is three feet long, the master's three and a half feet, and the doctor's four feet with wide panels on either side. The color of the velvet border on any hood indicates the field of study in which the candidates have taken their degree, as outlined below.
|White: Arts, Letters, Humanities||Drab: Business Administration|
|Copper: Economics||Light Blue: Education|
|Brown: Fine Arts||Pink: Music|
|Apricot: Nursing||Dark Blue or Black: Philosophy|
|Sage Green: Physical Education||Peacock Blue: Public Administration|
|Golden Yellow: Science|
The University Mace is a ceremonial symbol of authority carried in academic processions during commencement and convocations at universities and colleges. The honor of serving as Bearer of the Mace at California State University, Bakersfield is accorded to the Chair of the Academic Senate, the governing body of the faculty.
The Alumni Association will be selling flowers at Commencement again this year. Proceeds from the flower sales help support alumni events and activities such as the expansion and enhancement of Alumni Park. Alumni volunteers sell bouquets and leis at each ceremony. This is a great way for your family and guests to show how proud they are.