July 9, 2012
Academic Dress Parade!
Posted by Evelyn Mervine
Several days ago, I shared some pictures of me in my PhD regalia, and I asked people to share with me pictures of academic dress so that I could host an academic dress parade here on Georneys.
For those of you who are not familiar, academic dress consists of fancy robes and hats and such that used to be worn daily or regularly by students and professors but which are now generally only worn for formal ceremonies such as graduations. Academic dress is very diverse. Countries, schools, and even departments have their own individual styles of academic dress, and the dress also varies to indicate the level of degree earned by an individual (PhDs and DScs usually wear doctoral hoods, for instance). Since academic dress is so diverse, I thought it would be fun to share some pictures here. I’m still looking for more pictures of academic dress (particularly some of the more elaborate dress styles with fur and lace and really crazy hats), so please continue to send pictures to georneysblog AT gmail. I can always host a second parade!
I think it’s wonderful to celebrate academic dress. In these days when students and professors are more likely to wear jeans than a tie, I find the academic dress a fascinating throwback to times when dress was much more elaborate. Today, academic dress looks delightfully ridiculous… as if all the students and professors are dressed up for a Harry Potter movie, perhaps.
I recently attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduation ceremony (I received my PhD in Marine Geology), and the graduation speaker this year was an MIT alum named Salman Khan. During his speech, Khan compared MIT to Hogwarts:
As long as I could remember, to anyone who would listen to me, I’ve told people that MIT is the closest thing on this planet Earth to Hogwarts, to Harry Potter’s wizarding school. That the – the ideas and research and the science that percolate behind these walls — that’s the closest thing to magic in the real world, and frankly, to people outside this campus it looks like magic. The faculty we have these are the leading wizards of our time, the Dumbledores and McGonagalls (I guess, President Hockfield, you would be McGonagall). The halls here they have secret passages and tunnels, and around every corner there are strange and bizarre magical objects and creatures, some of whom may finish their thesis this decade. Maybe a few in the audience.
I’d argue that Khan’s remarks apply not only to MIT but also to many other research universities. While a bit ridiculous, perhaps Harry Potter style robes are appropriate attire for the “leading wizards of our time.”
Without further ado, here’s the dress parade!
I’ll start off the parade in my academic dress for my PhD in Marine Geology from the Joint Program in Oceanography / Applied Ocean Science & Engineering between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:
I describe the dress as well as my doctoral hooding and graduation ceremonies in detail in this post.
In similar attire, here is my friend Einat Lev, who graduated with a PhD from the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at MIT:
You’ll notice that Einat’s hood has red and gray colors (MIT’s school colors) while my hood has red, gray, and blue colors. The extra blue is to represent the joint program with WHOI. Here’s another photo of Einat, eager to remove the very hot robes!
Continuing the parade, here is Matthew Francis in his academic dress for his PhD in Physics and Astronomy from Rutgers University:
Here is Jenny Holden, decked out in her undergraduate and PhD academic dress:
Jenny provided some detailed information about her academic dress and graduation ceremonies:
I got my undergrad and PhD from the University of London but different colleges (SOAS and King’s). I chose to have a University of London PhD and academic dress over the King’s robes as although the latter were designed by Vivienne Westwood— they don’t have a detachable hood, which you can wear when singing in certain church choirs and preaching in some places (an option I may want to take up). There are nine pages describing University of London academic dress more interesting pictures.
The gowns are fairly heavy and warm (good in Winter not so much in July), but my supervisor’s (who got his PhD at Cornell) seemed warmer and velvet like!
I hired all mine but can buy the hood at a later date if I wish. We don’t have any robing ceremony, you are dressed by the gown hire people and don’t wear hats [see hat picture above] for ceremonies.
My PhD ceremony in July last year was with undergraduates so we had our degree titles and names read out as we walked across the stage as opposed to just our names (which undergrads get). We had
a couple of honorary doctorates awarded at my ceremony including Terry Pratchett!
My undergrad ceremony is memorable as I graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies, so the music before, during and after reflected this (Shone funeral music, Sephardic singing, Chinese strings and a Japanese Buddhist nose flute where the player wears a basket over their head!), after 3 years at SOAS the graduands are used to it but our parents not so much.
All undergrads in the UK have black gowns, with the colours on the hood denoting different subjects in groupings such as Science, Arts, LLB (or law) etc. The Masters gowns have different colour ribbons but are still black. In Scotland (where I work now) the PhD students where a different kind of cap called the John Knox cap.
I have to say the most striking PhD gown was worn in the academic procession for my PhD and we think it came from a Scandinavian university and looked like a knight’s outfit.
Note: If you know of anyone who owns Scandanavian knight academic dress, please tell them to email me a picture for our next dress parade!
Moving along, here are some pictures of my fellow geoblogger Chris Rowan in his academic dress during his PhD graduation from the University of Southampton in 2007:
Here’s a picture of Tannis McCartney, another fellow geoblogger, in her MSc robes for her recent graduation from the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary:
Here are some pictures from Anna Pertuu, yet another geoblogger, decked out in her undergraduate academic dress from Western Washington University and her MSc academic dress from the University of Alaska Fairbanks:
Anna wrote a little explanation of her academic dress:
I have two photos for you! the first is my undergrad and second is my masters!
WWU: I got a BS in Geology and as part of the College of Sciences and Technologies we had a yellow tassel. Just the tassel and the black rope, that was it.
UAF: I got a MS in Geophysics and for this one the black gown had different sleeves for the masters candidates (I contemplated putting a book in one to read….) and I think everyone had the same tassels in the schools colors. The cape thing was colored for colleges and mine was yellow for College of Natural Science and Mathematics.
You can also see that I got very pale living in Alaska! 🙂 I am exited to see all the photos! Oh and I am sneaking in a photo of me against a see of other grads! It’s just too fun!
Here are some pictures of my high school friend Taylor in academic dress during her graduation from the University of Arizona with an MSc degree in library science:
Here’s a picture of Aimee, another high school friend of mine, in her doctoral regalia. Aimee is a real medical doctor! She recently obtained her degree in medicine from the University of Washington:
Moving along with the dress parade, here are pictures of Scott, another friend of mine. These pictures show Scott graduating with his degrees in BSEE (Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering) and MSEE (Master of Science in Electrical Engineering) from Tufts University. These pictures were taken back in the 1980s.
Last, but definitely not least, here are some pictures of Cholisina in her academic dress for her graduation from Brawijaya University in East Java, Indonesia:
Cholisina wrote some explanation of the academic dress at Brawijaya (note: I’ve corrected the English very slightly):
I’ve attached some phothos of my graduation day.
Actually, we have little bit different in toga’s [robe’s] collar to determine whre he/she graduate from. If me, because I gradute from Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, it will be blue colour in my toga’s collar (the other that I remember is Green for graduate from Medical Faculty and red for gradute from Law Faculty).
If he/she graduate in Undergraduate level, it will be square shape in the back, but for master and PhD have triangle shape one.
That’s all the pictures I have for this academic dress parade! Thanks to everyone who sent me pictures. Please let me know if I’ve forgotten to include any pictures or if you have additional pictures you’d like to share. Again, I’d be happy to host a second academic dress parade in the future!
I enjoyed this page and congratulations on your own impressive academic accomplishments. I believe that American universities should allow more frequent wearing of academic attire. I love that tradition in the British Isles and elsewhere in the world. Tradition should be encouraged. I suggest that American schools could allow the optional wearing of regalia one day a week and at special events. I believe that Oxford has “Red Days” when the wearing of full regalia is allowed. Please correct me if I am wrong on this point.
As a holder of a Masters degree, I often wished I could have had reason to wear my regalia more often. It will remain packed away, however. I love your enthusiasm for this topic and all the best to you.