University of Washington ceremonial occasions begin with the entrance of the University Mace, carried by the University Marshal. The mace symbolizes the University’s governing authority and is present only when the president and regents are in attendance. It signifies the proceedings have official sanction. The tradition of the mace derives from medieval times in England, when the mace was held by a bodyguard for dignitaries at ceremonial functions.
Ceremonial maces are used by governing bodies worldwide, including the U.S. House of Representatives and the British Parliament.
The University of Washington mace is seen only at Freshman Convocation, Commencement and honorary degree ceremonies. As an ancient symbol of authority, it reminds us that universities are custodians both of the enduring traditions of learning and of the power they bestow upon those who come to learn. It is also a reminder that the learning process has not always been comfortable and easy.
The University mace bears the inscription: “Presented to the University on the occasion of its Centennial by the University of Washington Alumni Association, 1961.” It is three feet in length and five pounds in weight. The shaft is of dark rosewood decorated in gold, and the name of the University is inscribed in purple enamel on the headpiece. The triangular headpiece of gold-plated sterling silver is topped by a silver reproduction of Drumheller Fountain. Each of the three sides carries a finely wrought engraving (see below).