University Gonfalon: The gonfalon is a banner displaying Rutgers’ coat of arms that is borne at the head of all university processions by a senior faculty member known as the gonfalonier. The coat of arms is quartered to represent in armorial bearings the founding and growth of the university. The upper right quarter bears the arms of the House of Orange and recognizes the Dutch settlers who founded Queen’s College under the aegis of the Dutch Reformed Church. The upper left quarter contains the armorial devices of English King George III and Queen Charlotte. George III granted the Charter of 1766 to establish Queen’s College. The lower right quarter contains the Great Seal of New Jersey. The lower left bears the coat of arms of Col. Henry Rutgers, a benefactor of Queen’s College. The name of Queen’s College was changed to Rutgers College in his honor in 1825.
University Gonfalonier: The gonfalon in this year’s commencement procession is carried by Samuel Rabinowitz, associate professor of management and associate dean of special projects at Rutgers School of Business–Camden. He is a faculty representative to the university’s Board of Governors and chair of the University Senate.
University Mace: The mace, an ornamental staff symbolizing the president’s authority, is borne by Leslie Fehrenbach, secretary of the university, and carried before the president in academic processions. The mace incorporates signs of the institution’s traditions and status as New Jersey’s state university, including its coat of arms and seal in colored enamel and gold on silver.
The Rutgers Seal: The University Seal is an adaptation of that of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, an ancient seat of learning, whose Latin motto surrounding a sunburst is Sol iustitiae nos illustra – “Sun of righteousness, shine upon us” – based on two biblical texts, Malachi 4:2 and Matthew 13:43. Queen’s College, forerunner of Rutgers College, modified the Utrecht seal to read Sol iustitiae et occidentem illustra – embracing the Western world meaning “Sun of righteousness, shine upon the West also.”
The boards of Governors and Trustees approved a revised design for the University Seal in 1997 that includes the words “Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey” and adds the 1766 founding date.
Academic Regalia: The wearing of academic costumes dates to the oldest universities in the world. Medieval scholars, it was believed, wore robes and hoods for warmth in their unheated buildings. When American universities decided to adopt academic dress, they established a code of regulations that is still followed today.
The code makes it possible to distinguish recipients of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, and to recognize, as well, the institution that granted them. The bachelor’s gown has pointed sleeves and is worn closed. The master’s gown, worn open or closed, has oblong sleeves, the front part of which frequently is cut away at the elbow. The doctor’s gown is also worn either open or closed and has bell-shaped sleeves. Hoods vary in size according to degree, with the largest reserved for those having a doctorate. All hoods are lined in silk in the academic color or colors of the institution that conferred the degree.
At Rutgers, members of the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, as well as those who hold a doctoral degree from the university, wear the Rutgers gown, which is scarlet with black velvet front panels framed on the outer edge with gold cord braid. The velvet panels are embroidered with a crown and the year 1766 at the neck, signifying the university’s founding as one of the original colonial colleges under King George III of England.
Graduates of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences traditionally wear green academic robes, symbolizing the agricultural and environmental elements of the college’s mission.
Media Contact: Steve Manas
732-932-7084, ext. 612