Traditions & Regalia

The academic regalia worn and displayed at the inauguration ceremony has a symbolic meaning and a storied history. Each piece of academic regalia you will see on display during the procession and installation ceremony carries symbolic meaning about the University, its history and the traditions of higher education.

  • Chancellor Regalia

    The Chancellor’s regalia, worn at official University functions, is crimson and gold. Four velvet chevrons adorn each sleeve, signaling the gown belongs to a chancellor or president.


  • The University Mace

    A mace was originally a heavy staff or club made entirely of metal. It was often spiked and used as a weapon of war. Later it became a scepter of office, resembling the original weapon in shape and borne on ceremonial occasions.


    The University of Denver mace was produced by Colorado silversmith Connie Brauer. The three-foot-long mace is made of sterling silver with gold plating, incorporating minerals native to the state. Near its crown are 12 flat areas in which gemstones alternate with six symbols of the University. The gemstones are aquamarine (the state stone), rhodochrosite, citrine, blue topaz, rose quartz and heliodor beryl.


    The symbols are...

    • the Rocky Mountain region and Denver.
    • an original Colorado Seminary shield.
    • the lamp, representing undergraduate education.
    • the torch, representing graduate and professional education.
    • the seal of the University.
    • a symbol of the world.


    Fashioned in opalescent enamel, the symbols represent the scope of this institution, from the Rockies to the world.


  • University Medallion

    The DU medallion is worn by the chancellor for official academic functions. Originally presented to the institution by Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the silver and gold medallion incorporates the University seal and motto, as well as four jewels on the electron orbits.


    The medallion is suspended by a massive silver chain that bears the name of the University’s 18 chancellors. It symbolizes the degree-granting power of the University and the authority of the chancellor as the institution’s chief administrator.


    Chancellor Buchtel’s original red vest has been carefully restored and is displayed in the chancellor’s suite in the Mary Reed Building.


  • Chancellor's Red Vest

    On Feb. 17, 1900, Chancellor Henry Buchtel hosted a senior breakfast in his home. In the interest of festivity and to invest the occasion with dignity, he wore a handsome red vest. In later years, DU quarterbacks were promised a similar red vest if they led their teams to victory.


    The tradition lapsed for many years until Chancellor Chester Alter (1953-1966) resurrected it for gala occasions. Since then, many University chancellors have sported red vests of their own, wearing them as symbols of leadership, hope and promise.


  • University Charter

    The charter of the Colorado Seminary was approved on March 5, 1864, by the Council and House of Representatives of the Colorado Territory. Twenty-eight individuals were listed as constituting a “body politic and corporate for the purpose of founding, directing and maintaining an institution of learning.”