Wearing a hood and robe as academic apparel is believed to have originated at the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Styling of the robes varies for the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, while the color of the velvet border indicates the type of degree held and the lining designates the official colors of the institution granting it.
Gonfalons are ceremonial flags or banners suspended from a crossbar. The use of ceremonial banners dates back to the 1500s. Italian towns, for example, each have a gonfalon, which is the official emblem of the town, showing its coat of arms.
At Kent Campus commencement ceremonies, student representatives lead their fellow graduates in with their college gonfalons. Each of the college gonfalons are emblazoned with the Kent State seal on an academic color of one of the college's disciplines, established by academic protocol.
The chair of Faculty Senate carries the mace as the official University Mace Bearer. The mace symbolizes academic authority. The Kent State University mace was created and crafted by alumnus Michael V. Jaszczak.
The central motif of the university seal retains the sun of the State seal, signifying state ownership and is symbolic of the light of knowledge and wisdom. The shield suggests the geographic shape of Ohio. The bird, which symbolizes leadership, is the chimney swift, a species that colonizes on campus and seems to be in constant flight. The university colors of blue and gold are incorporated in the enameled piece, which is set on top of a walnut pole, Encircling the pole are eight silver spears, representing the eight campuses of Kent State. The mace rests in a walnut stand crafted by Dr. David Dalton of the College of Education, Health and Human Services.
An expert craftsman in enameling, Mr. Jaszczak received his B.S. in art education from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1984. He earned his M.A. in enameling from Kent State in 1994 and an M.F.A. in 1998.
The Presidents Medallion
The President's Medallion symbolizes the responsibility in the Office of the President. Its central motif is the university seal, which retains the sun of the state seal, signifying state ownership and is symbolic of the light of knowledge and wisdom. The shield suggests the geographic shape of Ohio. The bird, which symbolizes leadership, is the chimney swift.
The original Victory Bell, located on the Kent State University Commons near Taylor Hall, has stood as a symbol of Kent State pride since the early 1950s. It was erected to unify the student body with the help of Kent State’s Alpha Phi Omega chapter. The fraternity also built a second, mobile bell deemed “Victory Bell II” a few years later to take the tradition off campus. Both the original Victory Bell and its second iteration were primarily rung after an athletic win.
After years of silence from the tradition, the Kent State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics was approached by Kent State alumni Buzz, ’67, and Marilyn, ’71, Starner to reintroduce a victory bell. Promoting and supporting Kent State traditions was a top priority for the Starners, who have both been active supporters of Kent State Athletics for more than 30 years.
The new victory bell was manufactured by Meneely Bell Foundry in 1915 and previously occupied a church tower. The Starner Victory Bell was dedicated Oct. 15, 2011, at the Homecoming football game against Miami University and rang with victory for the first time on Oct. 21, 2011, by the women’s soccer team (Kent State 2, Akron 0). The 300-pound bell makes its way to and from the majority of Kent State Athletics’ home contests and is rung when a university team is victorious. The honor of who rings the bell after a win is determined by each team. In May 2016, the tradition of ringing the Victory Bell was introduced at Commencement. Graduates ring the bell throughout the day to signify the victory of completing their degree.