LU alumnus repairs ceremonial mace for graduation

ceremonial mace

As the academic processionals march through the Montagne Center for Lamar University’s commencement ceremonies this Saturday, Dec. 15,they will follow a university mace that received a recent facelift thanks to the work of a Lamar alumnus.

Fall commencement ceremonies are planned for 9:30 a.m. for the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business and Engineering and 1:30 p.m. for the Colleges of Education and Human Development and Fine Arts and Communication and the Center for General Studies, with more than 1,200 degrees scheduled to be conferred.

The mace will be carried by the president of the Faculty Senate, who leads the academic processional at each ceremony. Lamar University’s mace is solid wood, about 5 feet tall, topped by a wooden cube. Each side features a representation of Lamar University’s seal against a background of red velvet.

Jerry Shivers, who received his bachelor’s degree and teacher’s certification in 1965 and his master’s in education in 1970 from Lamar, donated his time and woodworking expertise to refinish the mace and replace a damaged piece on the mace’s top. Over time, part of the top had split, likely due to natural expansion and contraction of the walnut material in response to changes in humidity, Shivers said.

Shivers said he was glad to put his hobby and retirement occupation to work to assist his alma mater. After graduating from Lamar, he taught mathematics at various schools in the Beaumont and South Park school districts before retiring in 1996. He has enjoyed woodworking for most of his life and took it up seriously about 25 years ago. He and his son-in-law, John Bourgeois, now operate J&J Woodworks in Fannett, producing custom furniture and signs.

The use of a mace in academic ceremonies dates to the fourteenth century in European universities as a symbol of authority. The ceremonial academic mace can trace its roots to both the medieval battle mace and the royal scepter.

Lamar University began its tradition of having the Faculty Senate President lead the processional with the mace during the tenure of Bill Franklin, who served as LU President from 1985-1991.