Presidential Inauguration

Inauguration Traditions


The banners leading today’s procession are known as gonfalons. There is a gonfalon representing each of the seven colleges and the School of Graduate Studies. The gonfalon’s roots can be traced to ancient Roman vexillum, and the banners were later used by medieval guilds and various religious orders, some of whom continue to use them to this day. They are now popularly used in graduation and commencement ceremonies to represent the whole educational institution or schools within it.

The Mace

CSU, Chico Presidential maceOnce a familiar weapon in medieval combat, the mace evolved over time and became associated with the pride of a nation and its origins. Later, the mace was adopted by universities as a symbol of the power of the academic quest for truth and wisdom. It is carried at academic processions not only to bring authority to ceremonial occasions but to symbolize the unity and aspirations of the collegiate community.

The mace that led the 12th Chico State inaugural procession was commissioned especially for this occasion. Conceptualized by President Hutchinson and designed by University Creative Director and alumnus Alan Rellaford, the mace was created by alumnus Jeff Lindsay, a Chico artist known for his exceptional metal- and glasswork. The mace will be carried at future graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies by the chair of the Academic Senate.

The mace measures 42 inches in length, weighs 12 pounds, and is made of very special components:

  • Claro Walnut (Juglans hindsii)—The wood of this grafted rootstock represents our joining together to create a stronger University community. Commercially important as a rootstock for orchard stock of English walnut (Juglans regia), claro walnut is a hybrid produced from a Northern California black walnut tree pollinated by an English walnut.
  • Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata)—This segment honors the original gift of land that made the site for the University possible. John Bidwell donated his eight-acre cherry orchard to secure the northern branch of the State Normal School for Chico in 1887. The corner boundaries of his cherry orchard are marked today by bronze plaques, which were placed at the University’s centennial in 1987.
  • Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)—This portion honors two important influences on the campus and community. First, it pays tribute to the Mechoopda people    who are indigenous to this area and who have contributed to Chico and the University for generations. The acorns from valley oaks were a traditional staple of the Mechoopda diet. Second, the wood used for the mace—and base—is from the Hooker Oak, which once stood in Chico. Annie Bidwell named the tree in 1887 after English botanist and director of the Royal Botanical Gardens Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker. When the Hooker Oak fell on May 1, 1977, it was nearly 100 feet tall, and its base stretched 29 feet in circumference at eight feet above the ground.
  • Glass—This one-of-a-kind feature incorporates eight colors of glass ribbon, symbolizing the academic disciplines at Chico State.

The top of the mace features a polished brass collar with the university name encased in black walnut, and it is topped with a steel disk powder-coated cardinal red. The university flame cuts through the surface. Designed in 1972 by Professor Emeritus Gregg Berryman, the flame is an enduring symbol for Chico State, suggesting a flaming torch of knowledge, a growing plant or tree, a book or scroll, or a human shape.

The Medallion

Commissioned for the inauguration, the medallion is worn by the president as a symbol of authority. Four inches in diameter and sculpted in solid bronze, the face of the medallion features the university seal, which was created by Gregg Berryman in 1992. It features a stylized drawing of Kendall Hall and the bell tower of Trinity Hall. The Romanesque architecture of these two buildings and Laxson Auditorium contributes to the old-world ambience of our campus. They remain an architectural influence for even our newest campus buildings. The Latin words “Ars Probat Artificem” mean “Art is the test of the artisan.” Recently, the drawing was updated by renowned graphic artist Steven Noble. The walkway in the foreground was refined to better guide the viewer’s eye into campus. The reverse side of the medallion lists the names and dates in office of the two Chico Normal School principals and the 12 presidents in CSU, Chico’s 130-year history. Engraved type on the edge of the medallion reads “In honor of the inauguration of Gayle E. Hutchinson, EdD, as the 12th president of California State University, Chico.”

Academic Dress

The colorful and distinctive academic dress worn today for ceremonial occasions originated in the universities of the Middle Ages. The cap, gown, and hood grew out of the clerical dress of that period. It became a distinctive symbol of academic pursuit, setting the academic apart from the nonacademic. Prior to the American Civil War, most American college and university students wore the gown daily during the entire term of study. The gown became standardized in 1894 when the American Intercollegiate Commission determined that all robes would be black. The master’s robe is distinguishable by long, closed sleeves. The doctoral gown has velvet edging and three velvet chevrons around each sleeve above the elbow. The presidential robe includes four chevrons. The traditional hood, also black, displays significant colors. The lining represents the colors of the university granting the wearer’s highest degree. The color of the facing of the hood signifies the individual’s academic discipline or school of study. President Hutchinson’s academic regalia was custom made and generously donated by Herff Jones.

University Hymn

In response to a decree made in 1934 by music department head Ruth Rowland Taylor, two student poets, Darlys Partridge and Frances Shier, began work on what would become the University hymn. They wrote a one-verse song to the music of Finlandia by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Sibelius granted his permission to use the music in exchange for a box of cigars. The song was adopted as the official University hymn one year later. In 1998, English Professor Emeritus Ernst Schoen-Rene penned two additional verses.