Leading Up to Commencement, Take a Look at the Story Behind Faculty Regalia

by Taylor Brethauer & Stephen Zubrycky, Editors-in-Chief Emeriti

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Daniel P. Hochstein

Asst. Professor of Civil Engineering

Columbia University

On the Colors:

The light blue of the robe is Columbia blue, a special shade of blue for Columbia University.

On the Chevrons, Hat and Hood:

The three dark blue chevrons and dark blue satin head represent philosophy, and are awarded to all doctors of philosophy. Doctors of engineering would have an orange hood.

On the Patches:

The Columbia University logo is a crown, harkening back to the university’s original name, the King’s College.

On Being Selected As The School of

Engineering’s Faculty Marshall:

Hochstein has been selected by Tim J. Ward, Ph.D., engineering dean, to serve as a faculty marshal.

“I’m actually one of the faculty marshals, so I help students line up and walk in with the students and sit with them in the crowd,” Hochstein said.

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Robert S. Suzzi Valli

Asst. Professor of Mathematics

CUNY, The Graduate Center

On the Colors:

The dark navy on the hood and the gown are for doctor of philosophy.

The orange stripe and medium blue on the gown are the colors for the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.

On the Hat:

This five sided tam hat unique to CUNY. These hats are typically four, six or eight sided.

On the Commencement Speaker:

“I’ve only been here five or six years, but [Sotomayor] has got to be the most excited speaker that we’re going to have. It should be really nice,” Suzzi Valli said.

On the Graduating Class:

“Since this is… my fifth year, it’s only one of the first times that I’m going to get to see seniors graduating that I had as freshmen, so that should be really cool,” Suzzi Valli said. “I had that experience last year, and that was really nice to see everyone grow and move on.”

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Brennan P. O’Donnell

President of the College

On the Hat:

He wears an eight-cornered tam hat. Most professors wear five or six. Graduates wear the four-cornered mortar board.

On the Presidential Robe:

Typical Ph.D. robes have three chevrons on the sleeves. Presidents’ robes have four chevrons.

Green and gold accents represent the Manhattan College colors, along with the embroidered crests on both sides of the zipper.

“We don’t have a Ph.D. gown, so we basically just made one up,” O’Donnell said of his gown.

When he was inaugurated, he wore his Ph.D. robes from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Campus. Once formally inaugurated, his new presidential robes were placed on him.

The ceremony was held in October of 2009 in Draddy Gymnasium.

On the Presidential Medal:

O’Donnell also dons a medal made specially for his inauguration as President.

“This was made for the purpose of the inauguration,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a symbol of the trustees handing on the leadership of the college to a new person.”

Each Manhattan College president is given one of these medallions.

“Brother Thomas had one of these and when he left, he put it in the archives and I think that’s probably what will happen [when I leave],” O’Donnell said. “So this is kind of my ‘you’re a president’ diploma.”

His medal was updated when the School of Liberal Arts changed its name from Arts to Liberal Arts, along with the updated School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

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Natalia Imperatori-Lee

Assoc. Professor of Religious Studies

University of Notre Dame

On the Colors:

The blue is in reference to her university’s full name, Notre Dame of the Lake, while also relating to the Virgin Mary.

The gold is meant to reference the Virgin Mary’s “Queen of Heaven” status.

The waves in the patches are in the color Scarlet. This is her favorite feature because scarlet is the color of theology which is what she received her Ph.D. in and scarlet is the color of the Queen and theology is the queen of the sciences.

On the Patches:

The two patches on the robe say vita dulcedo spes which means “hope is the joy of life.” It also has a star for the Queen of Heaven, a crucifix because it’s a Catholic school.

On the Hood:

The hood she received from her mentor. At her graduation ceremony, after defending her dissertation, the title was read at her commencement and her mentor put her hood on her.

On the Purchasing of Her Regalia:

She spoke about how the robes are ridiculously expensive and she spent time during her dissertation to save up and buy the robe.

On the Commencement Speaker:

“I’m excited for Sotomayor to come back to the Bronx.  I think Manhattan College has a lot of students whose story is so much like her story and I just hope that we get to interact with her and that the students, especially the Hispanic and Latino students from the Bronx get to at least shake her hand or get a picture with her because she’s a trailblazer and she’s amazing,” said Imperatori-Lee.