During medieval times, a mace was a weapon used to fight duels, but now it is known as the ceremonial staff of university graduations. The carved, wooden staff is carried out at USF graduations by the Faculty Senate president to begin the celebration of achievements.
“It’s been transformed to be a symbol of university graduations,” said Amanda Thomas, director of special events and commencement.
This will be Gregory Paveza’s second time to carry the mace, which he considers an honor because he is the bearer of a symbol that represents the university.
“It’s certainly an inspiring experience. It brings home an academic tradition,” Paveza said. “It marks the beginning and the end all at the same time.”
As the ceremony begins, Paveza said being the first to walk up to the stage is exciting because he gets to see all the students waiting to be rewarded for their accomplishments.
“I’m the first one to see the whole layout and all the graduates, parents and family waiting to celebrate,” Paveza said.More than 2,500 graduates are expected to attend the ceremonies on May 4; however, there are nearly 4,000 graduates this semester Thomas said.
“Some students may choose not to come because their families can’t make it, or (students) have already started their jobs or internships,” Thomas said. “We try to make it special for the students who do attend.”
Thomas said the decorations help make the event one the students will appreciate. The stage, which is lined with flowers and ferns are decorations that add to the columns and USF banner that is set at the back of the stage, Thomas said.
Jim Vastine, a university librarian, has attended USF’s graduations for the past six years, and this year he will be the chair of the commencement and convocation committee.
Vastine said he is responsible for organizing the seating sections for each college and assisting students to their correct sections. Vastine said he hopes more students choose to attend their graduations in the future.
“It’s such a happy environment. The seniors are so happy to see all their family and friends recognize their achievements,” Vastine said. “The past couple of years the graduation has been about two hours. and when you consider the number of students involved that’s not bad at all.”
Vastine said the organization in which students are seated is simple for students because they’re only required to sit within their college. Vastine said although students’ seating is not of importance, their time for recognition is noticed.
“It’s nice that each student is recognized individually by the president and the provost,” Vastine said. “I’ve been to some graduations where they tell the students in the college to stand. That’s how they are recognized.”
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