University Mace

Maces date from at least 1200 as heavy weapons borne by Sergeants-at-Arms meant to protect the King’s person. By the 14th century maces had become purely ceremonial, and increasingly decorative, symbols of royal or other institutional authority. The University Mace is a symbol of the Office of the President.

The University Marshal has, in all official academic processions, the honor to serve as Mace Bearer. The University Mace was first used at the graduation of the charter class in 1982. The Mace depicts the University Seal and its crowning ornament is a large brass orb. Engraved upon a brass band encircling the mace pillar are the words: “Educating Health Care Professionals in the Osteopathic Tradition.” The founding year of the University, 1977, is engraved on another band in Roman numerals, “MCMLXXVII.” When not in use, the mace is on permanent display in the President’s Office.

WesternU's University Marshal's. Dr. Cundari (retired) and Dr. Thrush.

The gonfalon is a banner derived from the ancient Roman vexillum, or military standard carried by Gonfaloniers. Gonfalons feature heraldic flags – commonly pointed, swallow-tailed, or with streamers – suspended from a crossbar. In the Middle Ages, they were adopted by Italian communes and then lay religious orders, guilds, and universities. The WesternU Gonfalons feature pointed burgundy banners with the University Seal above pointed tails with chevrons and back facings in the academic color of each college.


This is a tradition at formal proceedings of a university such as Convocation and Commencement.  Such exercises begin with university dignitaries, students, and special guests who all process garbed in academic attire.  Upon completion of academic exercises the platform party departs in a formal recessional.

Guild of Marshals

Decorum, tradition, processions of candidates, faculty and the platform party and the ceremony are managed by the Guild of Marshals. The legacy of the Guild of Marshals goes back to medieval courts in Europe where trusted members were appointed as Marshals of the court. WesternU Head Marshals can be identified by the gold Aiguillettes worn at the shoulder. The University Marshal is a faculty member appointed by the President.

Honorary Degrees

Universities, especially at Commencement, confer honorary degrees upon persons of special distinction in humanities, science, arts, or other fields. Though not a specific credential, such degrees are a valued investiture rarely granted by a Board of Trustees upon the recommendation of the President and senior faculty.

Dr. Deborah Deas with her honorary degree in 2023.

The 15 flags on stage represent the Western states that the institution was originally established to serve. Since then, WesternU has grown to provide health care education worldwide.

Alaska state flag
Arizona state flag
California state flag
Colorado state flag
Hawaii state flag
Idaho state flag
Montana state flag
Nevada state flag
New Mexico State Flag
New Mexico
North Dakota state flag
North Dakota
Oregon state flag
South Dakota state flag
South Dakota
Utah state flag
Washington state flag
Wyoming state flag