Last Look

Carry a big stick

The university mace.

Mark Morosse

Mark Morosse

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This year, as every year, Yale’s commencement will honor the weighty intellectual achievement of students across the university. But for one participant, there’s some genuine heavy lifting. It is the job of the chief marshal to carry the University Mace, a 24-pound, 47-inch-long club made of gilded silver, in the procession from Woodbridge Hall to the dais on the Old Campus. The mace, a symbol of the authority of the president and the Yale Corporation, has been part of commencement since 1904.

“It’s more awkward than painful,” says former deputy provost Charles “Chip” Long, who performed the task from 1990 to 2010. “It’s top-heavy.” (Former Graduate School dean Jon Butler took over the job last year after Long’s retirement.) The four winged figures encircling the cup represent art, science, law, and theology, and the names of Yale’s presidents are engraved on the shaft. Long says that after the ceremony, he always carried the mace himself back to a vault in Woodbridge Hall. “I never delegated that job to anyone,” he says. “I didn’t want to be the deputy provost who lost the mace.”  

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