What is an Investiture? and FAQ

The Investiture Ceremony is counted among the oldest of traditions in academia. Originating in English universities and modeled after highly dignified knighthood ceremonies, investiture comes from the Latin phrase for “dress in robe.” In academic circles, the term has come to mean one who will literally don the university’s insignia and regalia.

The installation of a new president is a ceremony of dignity with many academic traditions and protocols. An academic procession takes place that includes delegates from other colleges and universities, as well as Fort Valley State University’s own faculty.

Marchers wear the colorful academic regalia of their own institution. Interspersed with musical selections, there will be the processional, invocation, greetings from several university and community groups, presentation of the symbols of office, chancellor address, singing of the Alma Mater, benediction, and the recessional.

The investiture of a chancellor is a significant event in the life of a university. Since Fort Valley State University was founded in 1895, our institution has been guided by nine presidents, each of whom has left an indelible mark on the history of the university.

How long will the ceremony last?

The Investiture Ceremony will last no longer than two hours. A reception will immediately follow.

Who is invited to attend the ceremony?

Anyone who has an interest in attending the Investiture Ceremony is welcome.

What is the attire for the event?

The attire for the event is business casual.

Will the ceremony be available on the web?

Yes, the ceremony will be available via live stream on the web.

Investiture Facts

The Academic Procession

The ceremony will begin with a formal processional, much like a commencement, and includes the platform party who will participate in the ceremony, delegates from other colleges and universities, university faculty, and student representatives.

Participants wear full academic regalia during the investiture procession and installation ceremony. The president marches in regalia with the school colors, but without the medallion of office, which will be presented during the ceremony.

Academic Regalia

The attire worn by participants in university inaugurations reflects symbolism dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. From medieval practice, academic dress has three items: cap, gown, and hood. Bachelor’s gowns are black with long, pointed, open sleeves. The master’s gown has a long, closed sleeve hanging below the elbow. Three bars of velvet on a full sleeve distinguish the doctor’s gown. For all degrees, the mortarboard is the traditional cap; doctors may elect to wear a velvet tam instead. The tassel may be gold or another color that indicates the field of study.

The length of the academic hood is the identifying symbol for the type of degree. A three and one-half-foot hood represents a master’s degree. The doctoral hood is four feet. The lining indicates the college or university that awarded the degree. The color of the velvet on master’s hoods represents the field of study. Velvet on doctoral hoods may represent the field of study or may be the traditional royal blue that represents the doctoral degree. The most frequently seen colors are white for arts, yellow for science, pink for music, blue for philosophy, light blue for education, brown for business, orange for engineering, turquoise for continuing studies, gray for general studies, and apricot for nursing.


Symbols of Office


The Fort Valley State University Mace 

Like the academic costume, the mace dates to medieval times. Knights used the mace, a heavy club topped with a spiked metal knob, as an effective instrument against the strongest armor in battle. Most likely this use of the mace influenced university officials to adopt it as a symbol of vested authority. Usually about two feet in length, the ceremonial mace survives today as a symbol of authority in most institutions.

Notable instances of its use are found in the sessions of the British House of Commons, where the mace is placed on the treasury table, and in sessions of the United States House of Representatives, where the mace is placed to the right of the Speaker of the House. The mace has also been adopted as an emblem by many colleges and universities in the United States. It is used in formal academic ceremonies and activities.

The Presidential Mace of Fort Valley State University is 26 inches long. Its shaft is made of rosewood. The head and tail of the mace are sterling silver.   At the very top is an inset consisting of the engraved university seal, which is gold plated and sterling silver. On the sides of the head are four scenes in low relief, illustrating the academic emphases of the University: Education, Arts and Sciences, Agriculture, and Business. The mace was designed by a nationally known gold/silversmith, Professor Kurt J. Matzdorf of New Paltz, New York. The inauguration of President Luther Burse in 1984 marked the first ceremonial use of the mace at Fort Valley State University.

The Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion is crafted of bronze and also bears the seal of the University. The medallion is inscribed with the year 1895, which indicates the year Fort Valley State University was founded. The medallion is worn for formal occasions, such as convocations, commencements, and inaugurations – a tradition that can be traced back to the Middle Ages.