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Black is the new green: Cap and gown redesign to take effect this fall

As part of the changes to this fall’s commencement ceremony, students will only be able to rent their caps and gowns this year. ORACLE PHOTO/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

USF will be switching out its signature green regalia for a new black gown in time for commencement this fall.

The black gown, which was used by USF prior to 2015, was chosen because it is considered “traditional” for higher education institutions, according to Director of Media Relations Althea Johnson.

The university worked with its vendor, Herff Jones, to redesign the bachelor’s and master’s cap and gowns, which will now feature green accents. The doctoral regalia will remain the same.

The placement of university seals on the gown were also changed to more prominent areas. The new seals are placed on the side of the sleeves as opposed to their previous locations on both sides of the front of the gown. Johnson said the choice was made due to student feedback regarding how the stoles, cords and medallions would cover the seals.

Regalia will also no longer be available for purchase as many students reported that they did not use their gowns after graduation. It is also part of the university’s initiative to reduce waste, according to Johnson. The caps and gowns are available for rent for $75 on the Herff Jones website

As part of the sustainability initiative, USF also stopped distribution of the physical printed program in the summer ceremony earlier this year. Johnson said the change eliminated the waste from unused copies and allowed them to make last-minute updates to the program.

Graduates can still get a free printed copy at all USF campus bookstores on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to Johnson.

This fall’s graduating class will also see a new design for the commencement stage for the first time in nearly 20 years, Johnson said.

The new stage design will now feature the university seal as a focal point along with colors from the USF color palette – green and gold. The greenery used on the stage will also be removed and replanted across campus after commencement weekend. 

Johnson said the changes to this year’s ceremony are part of President Rhea Law’s goal to update the look of USF commencement as a “modern and innovative” institution.