When the 2018 School of Medicine graduates walked in to receive their degrees this year, they followed in the footsteps of generations past being led by the university’s ceremonial mace, a symbol of academia dating back to medieval times.
Carried this year by Dr. Michael Boyars, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, UTMB’s mace is used during official occasions in the life of the university, including commencements where it signifies the power and authority vested in the institution.
Boyars, a self-professed fan of graduations, has attended every graduation since he came to UTMB in 1982.
“Anything to do with graduation is an honor,” said Boyars. “It is one of the more significant events in the life of graduates, like getting married, having children, getting a job. Medical school graduation is a significant achievement.”
The mace was originally a hand weapon designed to pierce armor. Over time, its use as a weapon waned and it became a symbol of peaceful leadership used primarily in legislative bodies, religious ceremonies and at educational institutions.
Today, the mace is a symbol of authority, dignity and privilege.
As with most ceremonial maces, UMTB’s mace displays the university seal and decorations symbolic of significant achievements in the institution’s history.
One of the prominent symbols is a silver-plated medallion bearing an image of UTMB’s first building, the Ashbel Smith Building, also known as Old Red.
Also engraved on the mace are the university’s four schools and the dates they were established—the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Graduate Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions.
Echoing the macebearer’s excitement for the graduates, Dr. Danny O. Jacobs, then executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, said, “I am extremely proud of our class of 2018 graduates. I hope their education at UTMB will serve them well as they enter the next phase of their training. I wish them much success and satisfaction in their careers.”
The ceremony also included time-honored traditions such as the announcement of the Gold-Headed Cane Award winner, the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating medical student. The Gold-Headed Cane was presented to Transom Vu Nguyen.
This year’s Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award winners were also announced. They included Dr. George R. Brown, Class of 1962; Dr. Donald R. Butts, Class of 1962; Dr. Michael H. Malloy, Class of 1973; Dr. Leonard S. Marks, Class of 1969; and Dr. Jack W. McAninch, Class of 1964.