Pomp and Ceremony

Pomp and Ceremony

Degree translation
As is tradition at Jesuit universities in the United States, graduates are presented with a large and ornate degree certificate, the text of which is printed in Latin. Below is an English translation of the text.

The Administrators of Saint Joseph's University and the Society of Jesus in Philadelphia

For the Greater Glory of God

To all who view these present letters, greetings in the Lord

By these letters we, given charge of this function by the highest authority of the State, testify that this, our beloved (son our daughter), duly approved, has been advanced to the (Baccalaureate or Master or Doctor) of (Arts, Science, Business Administration or Education) and that (he or she) has been presented by us with all the rights and privileges attached to that degree. And that all might know, we have given these present letters, secured by our corporate seal and by the signature of the President of this university, in our academic building in Philadelphia,

Sixteenth day of May in the two thousand fifteenth year of the Lord

Academic Robes and Procession
The first year in the academic life of Saint Joseph's College opened with a ceremony, the Mass of the Holy Spirit, and closed with a ceremony, a commencement exercise. In the years since, the academic year at Saint Joseph's has continued to open with a solemn mass of the Holy Spirit and to close with a formal commencement. Thus firmly rooted in the history of Saint Joseph's, the ceremony in which you share on commencement day is part of a still older historical tradition, that of the medieval university, where as early as the 13th century the awarding of academic degrees was attended with great ceremony and solemnity.

Today's academic procession replicates the march through the streets of Paris (or one of the other great university centers of the time) of the doctors and masters of the university, their somber gowns, brightened by the colored ornamentation of their hoods, testifying to their status as members of a corporate body, free of feudal controls, which alone possessed the right to fix the standards for academic degrees and licenses. Their gowns and hoods, practical garments designed to ward off the chill of unheated lecture halls and libraries and to provide adequate space to shelter books and manuscripts, provide the models for the gowns worn on ceremonial occasions by the professors and students of today.

The cut of the gown indicates the level of the degree. The bachelor's gown, always black in color, is cut simply, with long, pointed sleeves, and is worn closed. The traditional master's gown resembles the bachelor's except for the cut of the sleeves; these are quite long and cut above the elbow so that the lower part of the sleeve, closed at the bottom, hangs behind the wearer's arm or coat sleeve. Much more elaborate is the doctor's gown, embellished with velvet panels down the front and around the neck and with three velvet chevrons on each of its bell-shaped sleeves. The master's and doctor's gown may be worn open or closed.

Hoods also vary in cut according to the degree represented; the bachelor's again being the most simple and doctor's the most elaborate. The hood is lined with silk in the colors of the university which granted the wearer's highest degree, and the color of the bordering velvet indicates the field of study to which the degree pertains. The dark blue of the Doctor of Philosophy, the degree common to most of the traditional academic disciplines, will be most visible in the faculty procession, providing a background for the scarlet of the theologians, the purple of the lawyers, and the mustard of the Doctors or Masters of Business Administration. The lemon of Library Science, the brown of Fine Arts, and the light blue of Education will also be represented. The mortarboard cap has been standard in the United States for many years though soft caps are coming into use; the doctors may wear a gold tassel, but all others wear black. The occasional exotic in the procession, whose academic costume conforms to few or none of the standards described, is a graduate of a foreign university, whose academic garb represents its own distinctive tradition.

In the procession, the graduates will wear the gown and carry the hood appropriate to the degree to be received. As the formal conferring of degrees takes place, the students, on signal, will don the hood symbolic of the degree granted. Each hood is lined with the crimson and gray of Saint Joseph's University and bordered in velvet colored to designate the degree. Degrees will be conferred in Arts(white), Science( golden yellow), Business Administration (mustard), and education ( light blue).

Frank Gerrity, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of History