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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 21, 2004

Campus Mace introduced during commencement

by Linda Charles

A new campus symbol -- the mace -- was introduced during the undergraduate commencement ceremony May 8. Chief faculty marshal Richard Horton, professor of electrical and computer engineering, carried the staff during the ceremony.

Sculptor Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, Bellefonte, Pa., designed and sculpted the mace from tiger maple, bronze and silver.

The bronze headpiece features two campus landmarks (the campanile and Christian Petersen's Fountain of the Four Seasons) and the motto "Iowa State University -- Science with Practice."

The staff features 14 bronze plaques, engraved with the names of all the university's presidents, their years of service, and a laurel leaf that symbolizes the attainment of graduation.

At the base of the staff is an unfolding bronze leaf that symbolizes the beginning of a new era for graduating students.

The mace is 5 feet long and weighs 14 pounds. It was financed through private funds from the Iowa State University Alumni Association and University Museums.

From weapon to symbol

Dating back to ancient Egypt, the first maces were weapons -- wooden clubs with stone heads. In the Middle Ages, the mace featured an armor-piercing spiked head on a chain.

The mace began to evolve from a weapon to an ornamental symbol of power when it was carried by the Royal Serjeants-at-Arms and stamped with the Royal Arms.

The mace also was used during medieval religious procession to clear a path through throngs of people gathered inside cathedrals.

As time passed, the mace began to be carried at academic processions. Today, many universities and colleges throughout the country have maces.

Sources: Lynette Pohlman, University Museums; Tour Egypt,; Parliament of Australia, House of Representatives,; and Kalamazoo College Upjohn Library Archives,

ISU mace

Iowa State's new mace was unveiled during the undergraduate commencement ceremony earlier this month. (Photo by Bob Elbert.)


Dating back to ancient Egypt, the first maces were weapons -- wooden clubs with stone heads.