You are here

Commencement Traditions

Like most universities, Kansas Wesleyan University maintains its own traditions practiced during the university’s various ceremonies and services. Among those that are included in the university’s commencement exercises are academic regalia, honor cords, and the carrying of the University Mace and the University Banner.

The caps, gowns, and hoods worn in the formal academic ceremonies are patterned after the academic regalia common in medieval European universities where both students and faculty were required to wear gowns at all times. Today these gowns represent an adaptation of the cape or mantle that was worn by church officials in religious processions. In 1896, colleges and universities in the United States adopted a uniform code governing academic dress. 

The traditional color for academic gowns is black; however, faculty with the doctorate degree may wear gowns of the primary color of the institution which awarded the degree. 

The bachelor’s degree gown is distinguished by the long pleated front and long, pointed sleeves. It is worn closed. The master’s degree gown is similar but has square sleeves, slit at the elbow. The doctoral gown features broad velvet panels down the front and flowing sleeves each with three bars of velvet. The velvet trimming may be either black or the distinctive color of the field of learning represented by the degree. Master’s and doctoral gowns may be worn either open or closed. 

Caps worn may vary with the university and individual choice. The black Oxford cap, or mortarboard, is the traditional headwear. Also worn are the soft beret style and Florentine style. The tassels of the caps are worn on the left side by those who possess the bachelor’s degree. 

The distinctive hoods vary in size according to the level of degree held. Colors of the inner silk indicate the institution from which the wearer received the degree. The outer velvet border is trimmed in a color indicating the field of learning.



Arts, Letters, Humanities


Business , Accounting







Light Blue



Fine Arts








Library Science








Oratory (Speech)

Silver Gray


Olive Green


Dark Blue

Physical Education

Sage Green

Public Administration

Peacock Blue

Public Health

Salmon Pink


Golden Yellow

Social Work




Veterinary Science


M.B.A. Hooding

Kansas Wesleyan’s Master of Business Administration degree candidates will receive their hoods during today’s ceremony.

Presidential Mace

The Presidential Mace was created by Lindsborg artist, David Anderson. It is a symbol of the legal and chartered authority of the President, to whom the Trustees have delegated authority. The Mace is ceremonial and represents an honor for a distinguished member of the faculty to carry it at university functions. It is on display in the President’s Office when not being used for formal ceremonies at Kansas Wesleyan University. Each year, the faculty recipient of the Exemplary Teacher Award has the honor of serving as the Mace Bearer at all ceremonial academic functions for the next academic year.

Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion consists of the Seal of the University attached to the Chain of Office with the names of former Kansas Wesleyan University presidents engraved on the links. It was presented to President Thompson by the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Inauguration Installation Ceremony on September 27, 2013. The president wears the Presidential Medallion at all ceremonial university academic functions.

University Banner 

The University Banner depicts the Hall of Pioneers logo and is used at all formal university functions. The Banner Bearer is the president of the Student Government Association.

The Lectionary Cross 

The Lectionary Cross has on its face the blended letters “UUMC” and “KWU”, signifying the strong ties between KWU and the University United Methodist Church. The cross was a gift of UUMC in 2002 and was dedicated in memory of the late Dr. Albert L. Nelson, who was a Professor Emeritus of Education at KWU. The emblem was created by Charles May, a member of the UUMC congregation. The cross is used at all formal KWU-UUMC services and events. 

Coyote Corner

Passing by the Bolen Coyote and rubbing his nose for good luck is a tradition not only during formal academic processions, but also during the daily campus life as students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors who walk by Coyote Corner.  

Commencement Awards

Kansas Wesleyan University’s Commencement Ceremony also includes several awards that are presented to degree candidates.

Jabara Leadership Award

The Professor Fran Jabara Leadership Award recognizes graduating seniors from four-year, private Kansas institutions who display exemplary skills in leadership. Jabara, the former dean of the Wichita State University College of Business Administration, made a lifetime commitment to the advancement of excellence in education for Kansas students.

Scholarship Medallion

The Scholarship Medallion is presented to the senior degree candidate or candidates with the highest grade point average.

Other Honor Cords and Stoles

The graduation candidates receiving academic honor cords are presented with those at the commencement ceremony. Those academic organizations at Kansas Wesleyan University whose members wear honor cords or stoles during formal academic ceremonies include the following: 

Baccalaureate degree candidates with outstanding academic records are recognized at commencement. Three distinctions are made: Summa Cum Laude (Latin for with highest honors) recognizes a cumulative and residential GPA of at least 3.9; Magna Cum Laude (with high honors) recognizes a cumulative and residential GPA of at least 3.75; and Cum Laude (with honors) recognizes a cumulative and residential GPA of at least 3.5. Summa Cum Laude recipients will be presented with gold and purple cords as they cross the stage; Magna Cum Laude recipients will be presented with a purple cord as they cross the stage; and Cum Laude recipients will be presented with a gold cord as they cross the stage. The student’s earned grade point average must equal or surpass the minimum requirements in both categories.

Red, white and blue cords may be worn by those who are serving or have served in the 
United States Armed Forces.  

Purple and gold braided cords may be worn by those who successfully completed the Arete Honors Program.