Mace ceremony a focal point for Harden’s investiture
Much of the pomp and ceremony of the Oct. 29 inauguration of new UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas K. Harden had to do with a ritual object with roots in the Middle Ages.
The University Mace, a ceremonial staff signifying authority, was prominent throughout the nearly 90-minute program.
Carried into the hall by senior faculty member and mace bearer Prof. Ismail Shariff, the mace preceded Harden in the opening processional. That’s a tradition from medieval days, when a mace bearer would walk ahead to ensure safe passage for the leader of a kingdom, cathedral or university. Just the threat of the heavy, spiked club was usually enough to keep potential challengers at bay.
The UW-Green Bay mace was seated in its station, front and center on the Weidner Center stage, at the start of the Inauguration ceremony.
Midway through the program and just prior to his formal investiture by UW System President Kevin Reilly, Chancellor Harden was called to the document table to sign a proclamation in support of UW-Green Bay’s mission. The document is stored inside the handle of the mace.
Removed for signing by Prof. Cliff Abbott, the proclamation carried the signatures of each of UW-Green Bay’s four chancellors previous to Harden. On hand to witness Harden’s signature were two of his predecessors, Mark Perkins and Bruce Shepard, and the school’s most recent interim chancellor, David Ward.
Provost Julia Wallace, the emcee for the program, narrated the signing ceremony: “Dr. Harden, with your esteemed predecessors and campus and community as witnesses, we welcome your signature, signifying your acceptance of the Chancellorship, and your commitment to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.”
Harden also signed two additional copies that are framed and permanently displayed on campus.
When not in use at commencement and other academic ceremonies the University Mace is on permanent display near the main desk of the University’s Cofrin Library.
The UW-Green Bay mace has at its top a phoenix standing upon a representation of an ancient astronomical instrument, in this case bearing images of the Milky Way and the double helix of DNA. The piece was created in 2001 by acclaimed metals artist Prof. Emeritus David Damkoehler of the UW-Green Bay faculty.