Skip to main content

Installation History & Tradition

Academic Regalia 

Chancellor's Regalia

The Chancellor robe is a doctoral styled robe made with custom WCU purple crepe fabric. Her robe features purple velvet panels and 4 doctoral bars on each sleeve to represent the status of Chancellor. The velvet panels are embroidered with the official Western Carolina University seal in gold thread. 

The hood is made with WCU purple crepe fabric with bright gold and purple satin in the lining and trimmed with purple velvet. Her cap has 6 corners and is made with purple velvet and has an attached two-button gold silky tassel.

Faculty Regalia

The Cap

Caps are black, made from mortarboard and worn flat on the head with one corner of the square facing the front. The tassels for the doctoral degree are gold, and those for other graduate and professional degrees may correspond to the trimmings on the hoods.

The Gown

The cut of the gown indicates whether the wearer holds a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree. The bachelor’s gown is a simple, unornamented robe with long pointed sleeves. The master’s gown is more elaborate and many styles have slits in the sleeves. The doctor’s robe is ornamented with three bars on each bell-shaped sleeve and panels on the front of the robe. The standard color of the robe is black, although some institutions have adopted other colors.

The white robes and caps worn by the student marshals and student delegates at Western Carolina University are an indication of their undergraduate status.

The Hood

The institution at which the degree was awarded and the field of study in which the degree was earned are represented by the hood. The lining of the hood identifies the institution that awarded the degree. However, because of the large number of degree-granting institutions, there is much duplication, even though a variety of patterns have been introduced. For example, more than 30 institutions are represented by purple and gold. The length of the hood and the width of its border vary in relation to the degree held.

The Colors

The color of the tassel on the cap and of the border on the hood represents the field of study in which the degree was earned.

  • Arts, letters, humanities - white
  • Commerce, accountancy, business - drab
  • Construction management - drab
  • Economics - copper
  • Education - light blue
  • Fine arts - brown
  • Law - purple
  • Library science - lemon
  • Music - pink
  • Nursing - apricot
  • Oratory (speech) - silver gray
  • Philosophy - dark blue
  • Physical education - sage green
  • Public health - salmon pink
  • Science - golden yellow
  • Social work - citron
  • Theology - scarlet

Installation Accouterments

The Medallion

WCU Chancellor Medallion


In the installation ceremony, the president of the University of North Carolina system confers the symbol of office by placing Western Carolina University's medallion around the chancellor’s neck.

Fashioned of handcrafted sterling silver, Western Carolina University's medallion is four inches in diameter and bears a seal designed in 1925 by art student Betty de Berry of Mount Gilead, N.C. The circular design encloses an outline map of North Carolina and a pine bough that reaches from the Outer Banks to the westernmost portion of the state, where the location of Cullowhee is marked with a star. The word Cullowhee and the date of the institution’s founding, 1889, complete the design, which served for several decades as the official seal of the Chancellor. On the medallion’s reverse side is engraved a list of the heads of the institution.

The Mace

Chancellor's Mace


The Western Carolina University mace, created in 1993, is the symbolic representation of the university’s authority at official assemblies. Symbolic academic maces descend from medieval and earlier times, when heads of church and state carried wands or staffs to represent authority. For generations, colleges and universities have used maces in their formal ceremonies.

The Western Carolina University mace is a shaft of black walnut capped with a head of polished bronze. The head is adorned with engraved mountain rhododendron leaves and bears bas-relief icons of the old Madison Building, the Alumni Tower, the original Western Carolina University seal and the University of North Carolina seal.

The Seal

The Western Carolina University seal bears the image of the Alumni Tower, the university’s best known landmark and a symbol of the support and dedication of the institution’s graduates and friends. Financed through gifts from alumni and other donations, the tower was erected on the occasion of the university’s centennial in 1989 and dedicated one year later.

Past Presidents and Chancellors 

Robert Lee Madison, President - 1889-1912
Alonzo Carlton Reynolds, President - 1912-1920
Robert Lee Madison, President - 1920-1923
Hiram Tyram Hunter, President - 1923-1947
William Ernest Bird, Acting President - 1947-1949
Paul Apperson Reid, President - 1949-1956
William Ernest Bird, President - 1956-1957
Paul Apperson Reid, President - 1957-1968
Alexander Simpson Pow, President - 1968-1972
Frank Hamilton Brown Jr., Acting President; Acting Chancellor - 1972
Jack Kenneth Carlton, Chancellor - 1972-1973
William Hugh McEniry, Acting Chancellor - 1973
Frank Hamilton Brown Jr., Acting Chancellor - 1974
Harold Frank Robinson, Chancellor - 1974-1984
Myron Lee Coulter, Chancellor - 1984-1994
John Halbert Wakeley, Interim Chancellor - 1994-1995
John William Bardo, Chancellor - 1995-2011
David Orr Belcher - 2011-2018
Alison Morrison-Shetlar, Interim Chancellor - 2018-2019

*Dr. Brown is counted as the institution’s 12th president or Chancellor because historically interim or acting leaders were not included in the tally, and those who held the position on more than one occasion were counted only once.

Office of Web Services