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Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
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academic mace

The upcoming inauguration of Kirk Schulz as K-State's 13th president will include the debut of a new academic custom at K-State. The university's first-ever academic mace will be carried at the head of the inaugural procession.

A large wooden staff or club, the mace was used in the Middle Ages to protect kings during a procession. Today in the collegiate setting, the mace is a decorative symbol of office, typically carried at the front of official academic processions. Traditionally, a marshal at the head of the inaugural procession carries the mace.

Schulz's inauguration will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in Bramlage Coliseum.

"Inaugurations, like graduation ceremonies, have their roots in medieval history," said Charles Reagan, chief of staff and deputy to the K-State president. "The mace was a sign of authority."

K-State has never had a mace -- until now.

Tom Boley, a 1970 K-State graduate who lives in Purcellville, Va., contacted the university about a year and a half ago to find out whether his alma mater had a mace. The hobby woodturner specializes in making maces and wanted to offer his services and make one free of charge.

Boley connected with Reagan, who agreed that K-State should have one. He set to work, aiming for spring 2009 graduation ceremonies. Then the university got a new president, which delayed Boley's timeline.

A mace is typically a varnished, wooden staff displaying the school's emblem and several symbolic features. Boley uses a lathe -- a piece of equipment on which wood is mounted and cut while spinning -- to make his maces.

Boley wanted the mace to represent K-State in spirit and in color. He used a very purple wood called purpleheart and a light-colored maple that was as close to white as he could get. He also made a tabletop stand -- the mace's home when it's not in ceremonial use -- that has a center stripe of purpleheart from end to end.

The mace is 45 inches long, a comfortable length for carrying, Boley said.

At the top of the mace is the shape of a diamond, which points to the future. Then come three wooden rings, on top of a ball-shaped piece, which are symbolic of the three things that students leaving the university take with them: knowledge, understanding and the skill gained through the educational process. The ball itself represents K-State staff and faculty. The ball also holds a medallion with K-State's official seal.

Mace detailThree more wooden rings beneath the ball represent K-State as a comprehensive research and land-grant institution. Near the top of the mace's shaft are four thinner rings that are symbolic of the four charges of the university: developing student/human potential, expanding knowledge, enriching cultural expression and extending its expertise for the good of society. The three rings near the bottom of the shaft represent the university accomplishing its mission through degree programs, research and creative activities, outreach, and public service programs.

Boley said all of the rings encircle the mace and signify that K-State is a student-centered institution. The shaft of the mace represents the student body, with the flutes along the shaft representing K-State's undergraduate colleges. The small diamond-shaped piece at the end of the mace represents the university's origins.

"I was born in Manhattan while my father was in veterinary school. Though I grew up in Illinois, many of my fondest memories are from my time at K-State and in Manhattan," Boley said. "K-State is well positioned to provide an excellent level of education to its students for them to meet the needs of the nation and world."

Including the one for K-State, Boley has made 17 maces and is currently working on two more.

More information about President Schulz's inauguration is available at: