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History Marches into The Coliseum

Staff arrived by the dozens in the early morning hours to finish setting up for the largest indoor commencement ceremony held on campus. Offices and departments involved included Facilities and custodial, Risk Management and Learning Resources, the Office of the Registrar, Business and Finance, University Police, Public Safety, UWG Bookstore, UTV-13, University Communications and Marketing, Aramark and The Coliseum staff.

Dr. Lynne Gaskin, who retired this semester, led the faculty as mace bearer ??in the commencement procession.

Dr. Lynne Gaskin, who retired this semester, led the faculty as mace bearer in the commencement procession.

Live orchestral music, conducted by Professor Doug Overmier, once again accompanied the singing of the alma mater and the processional for both ceremonies thanks to the additional space the venue afforded.   

Marking another first in The Coliseum was the march of the faculty procession leading with the ceremonial mace. A sculpture of wood, gems and brass, the symbol of authority and knowledge was designed and built in 1995 by then artist-in-residence Richard Hill for the inauguration ceremony of Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna.

Retired this semester, Professor Lynne Gaskin led the noon ceremony as the mace bearer for the first and last time in her academic career. She mentioned that it was heavy as she waited for the signal to march with robed colleagues.

Weighing in at about 15 pounds, the 50-inch mace is made of three indigenous woods, eight tumbled rose quartz gems, a strand of mother of pearl and a brass tip embedded with the UWG seal.

Dr. Don Smith, former vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculties, commissioned the piece for the inauguration. Hill, who has sculpted more than a few wood sculptures, was a resident artist at the time. He has since come out of retirement to teach in the Department of Art.

Hill said the spiral of mother of pearl that progresses down the mace handle symbolizes the harmony and design of nature and of life. The iridescent circles are culled from the inner lining of shells of abalone, mussels and other mollusks.

The three woods Hill chose to work with are oak, walnut and maple. The circular top is adorned with rose quartz, a symbol of healing and insight.
Plans for the August commencement are already underway for approximately 400 graduates, and the mace will be polished and readied for yet another regal appearance.

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