The academic attire worn at Commencement and other ceremonial events is reminiscent of the distinctive dress associated with academic processions and convocations of the Middle Ages. Students in English and European universities wore woolen and fur garments to stay warm in unheated, drafty stone buildings. Most scholars of the time were clerics in holy orders, and wore cloaks with hoods to cover their tonsured heads.
Today, academic attire indicates by style and adornment the highest degree earned, the major field of study, and the college or university attended by the wearer. Hence, graduates receiving degrees in medicine in today's ceremony wear a black robe with green chevrons and a green tassel. Similarly, the colors on the hood reflect the degree being conferred and the colors of the institution - Des Moines University’s colors are purple and white. This assignment of colors representing different faculties was standardized in the United States in the late 1800s. While the original colors represented different degrees in a general sense, over time more colors were developed to reflect the wider varieties of conferrable degrees. For example, white was assigned to arts and letters; red, a traditional color of the church, was assigned to theology; Green, the color of herbs, was adopted for medicine, and olive, as a variant of green, was given to pharmacy; and yellow gold, which represented the wealth which was produced by scientific research, was assigned to the sciences.
Colors for the various degree programs at DMU are listed below:
- Osteopathic Medicine - Green
- Podiatric Medicine - Green
- Physical Therapy - Teal
- Public Health - Salmon
- Health Care Administration - Beige
- Physician Assistant - Green
- Anatomy - Yellow Gold
- Biomedical Sciences - Yellow Gold
The robe worn by Dr. Franklin was designed specifically for her inauguration and serves as her official academic attire for ceremonial events. Styled to be emblematic of our University and the president's rank and authority as our chief executive, the robe is a rich purple, the official school color, and it includes the University's seal on the velvet front facing panels. The sleeve trim is the customary black velvet, and there are four chevrons to designate a presidential robe. The front facings and sleeve trim are edged with gold cord. The President’s attire is completed with a beefeater tam to reflect the strength of our academic heritage and traditions.
The president's medallion serves as a visible display of the authority vested in the office of the University President. As a complement to academic attire, the medallion is worn by the President at Commencement and at other official ceremonies of the University. The University's medallion, designed in the Year 2000 to celebrate the new millennium, was struck in pure silver and plated with 24-karat gold. The center features a two-dimensional seal bearing the lamp of learning, to signify education, and the caduceus, to signify medicine. A chain of office honors the University's fifteen presidents.
Milestone medallions distinguish and honor DMU alumni who are celebrating significant anniversaries of their graduation. During the Commencement ceremony, members of the 50-year reunion class and earlier classes wear gold medallions, while members of the 25-year class wear silver medallions.
The Medallion Ceremony honors DMU alumni who, during Commencement weekend, are celebrating milestone anniversaries of their graduation. At the ceremony, members of the 50-year class and earlier classes are awarded gold medallions, and members of the 25-year class receive silver medallions. These graduates are invited to participate in Saturday's Commencement ceremony, wearing their medallions as symbols of their distinguished alumni status.
The presence of the mace is another sign of a ceremonial event. As used in academic settings today, the mace is modeled after a medieval weapon carried by a bodyguard to protect a king or person of high status. Carried in the Commencement procession by a member of the faculty, the mace is symbolic of office and authority adorned with the University seal. As is the tradition at Des Moines University, the president of the university's faculty organization is designated to serve as the Mace Bearer at official University ceremonies.
The Grand Marshal is an honored position conferred by the President upon a senior member of the faculty, the administration, or the alumni body. The selection recognizes the highest level of academic or service contributions for the benefit of the University. The Grand Marshal serves as the chief of protocol, leading the ceremonial parties in the processional and recessional, as well as announcing the official opening and closing for the Commencement ceremony.
For many years, the academic tradition of hooding has been a significant and cherished part of the Commencement Ceremony.
During this on-stage ritual, the doctoral hood is placed over the shoulders of the graduates to signify the professional stature attained by terminal degree holders. Customarily, the honor of hooding is reserved for faculty in recognition of their role in preparing graduates for their terminal degree. Each college defines its procedures for the selection of faculty hooders.