Academic Regalia - History

The origins of the academic dress date back to the 12th and 13th centuries when universities were beginning to form. It is still open to question as to whether academic dress finds it sources chiefly in ecclesiastical or civilian dress. It is often suggested that gowns and hoods were the simplest, most effective method of staying warm in the unheated, stone buildings housing medieval scholars.

In the days of King Henry VIII of England, Oxford and Cambridge first began prescribing a definite academic dress and made it a matter of university control to the extent of its minor details. The assignment of colors to signify certain faculties was to be a much later development and one which was to be standardized only in the United States in the late 19th century. An Intercollegiate Commission comprised of representatives of leading institutions met at Columbia University in 1895 and adopted a code of academic dress, which besides regulating the cut and style and materials of the gowns, prescribed the colors that were to represent the different fields of learning.

In 1959, a Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies, appointed by the American Council on Education, again reviewed the costume code and made several changes. In 1986, the committee updated the code and added a sentence clarifying the use of the color dark blue for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.


The Gown

Pattern. Gowns recommended for use in the colleges and universities of the United States have these characteristics. The gown for the baccalaureate degree has pointed sleeves and is designed to be worn closed. The gown for the master’s degree has an oblong sleeve, open at the wrist. The sleeve base hangs down in the traditional manner. The rear part of its oblong shape is square cut, and the front part has an arc cut away. The gown for the doctor’s degree has bell-shaped sleeves.

Material. As a means of adaptation to climate, the material of the gowns may vary from very light to very heavy, provided the material, color and  pattern follow the prescribed rules.
                                                                                                 Color. Black is most common although some
                                                                                                 universities have adopted a different color.



The Hood

Linings. The hoods are to be lined with the official color or colors of the institution which granted the highest degree held by the wearer; more than one color is shown by division of the field color in a variety of ways such as by a chevron or chevrons.

Trimmings. The binding or edging of the hood is to be velvet or velveteen, two inches, three inches and five inches wide for the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees, respectively. The color should be indicative of the subject to which the degree pertains.


Chancellor's Medallion and Mace

The Chancellor’s Medallion and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Ceremonial Mace were both handcrafted by Henry M. Runke, former chairman of the UW-Stevens Point Art Department. The medallion was cast in a 14k gold pendant in 1968 and contains a purple amethyst to represent the school colors. The four-sectioned areas beginning near the center symbolize the four colleges of the university and terminate as prongs for the gem. The mace, carried by the grand marshal in academic processions, was completed in 1976
and has a square base on which important dates 
from the school’s history are recorded. The most prominent feature is the head of the mace, which is a miniature of the cupola on Old Main, the university’s symbol. The inside of the mace also contains a
purple amethyst. 


Cupola and Weathervane  

Commissioned by Chancellor Bernie L. Patterson, 2012
Cupola: Joseph Hoover, artisan
Weather vane: Boleslaw Kochanowski and sons, artisans
Bill McKee, consultant

The cupola is the architectural pinnacle of the university’s first building, Old Main, and the iconic symbol of the institution. Designed to be a tangible part of university ceremonies, this replica of the cupola represents the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s past, present and future as a guiding light to students, alumni, friends and members of our community.

The cupola replica is created from materials significant to the university, community and region. The base of the cupola replica is white pine, the Wisconsin state tree, from Marathon Park in Wausau. For stability, the center of the base is filled with old lead curtain weights from the Jenkins Theatre, Noel Fine Arts Center. The base also features a disk of slate cut from an old chalkboard retrieved during the renovation of the Communication Arts Center. The dome and drum are streaked with hemlock, logged in the late 1800s, salvaged from the floor joists of the former Lullabye Furniture factory in Stevens Point. The pillars were created with wood from white ash trees grown on the university campus.

The original weathervane stood atop Old Main for 118 years and was replaced in 2011. The replica iron weather vane is a one-fifth scale model of the original.

It is a tradition for first-year students to seal their covenant with the university by touching the cupola replica as they depart from Convocation. Faculty and staff renew their commitment in a similar fashion. A bookend tradition is observed at Commencement as students become alumni, receive their pin bearing the iconic symbol, and pledge to use their knowledge to engage responsibly with a diverse and sustainable world.

On special nights the cupola atop Old Main shines purple and gold in honor of all those the university has served and our bright future ahead.


Weathervane photo.jpg 

Alma Mater

"The Purple and the Gold"
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Fight Song

"The Fight Song"
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International Flags

As a depiction of the university’s commitment to fostering global citizenship, the international flags represent the home countries of our international students since 1980, and also the countries in which our students have studied through international programs.