University marshals play a central role in Commencement. Wearing colorful regalia representing institutions that conferred their highest degree, faculty serving as marshals carry one of 47 ornate maces distinctive to The University of Texas at Austin. Maces symbolize academic authority and position. It is traditional for the Marshal of the University, who oversees the Grand Procession, to carry the Commencement Mace. The university's unique mace collection includes maces crafted of wood from the original Main Building. Some maces relate to academic disciplines. Others honor institutional milestones, such as the Centennial (1983) or the Report of the Commission of 125 (2004).
The Role of University Marshals
Marshals are important both in making the Grand Procession run smoothly and in representing the university to graduating students and their guests. They add greatly to the pomp and circumstance of the university's most significant academic occasion. Marshals are responsible for leading the procession consisting of three components — graduating students, faculty and members of the platform party — to the site where Commencement will take place. It is a formal prelude to the ceremony. The Grand Procession is marked by celebratory music, ceremonial banners, colorful robes and sashes, and a sense of anticipation and high spirits, all befitting a joyous occasion. Marshals lead procession participants to the symbolic heart of the campus, the Tower.
Marshals for Degree Candidates
Marshals first guide the procession of degree candidates, grouped by college or school, to seating on the Main Mall below the stage.
Marshals for the Faculty
Degree candidates are followed by marshals directing the procession of faculty from the South Mall, where they serve as an honor line for degree candidates, to seating on the upper terrace adjacent to the stage.
Marshals for the Platform Party
Lastly, marshals lead the platform party, including the Commencement speaker, president and other officials, to the stage. Once the platform party is in position on stage, the Marshal of the University goes to the lectern to announce to President Fenves that the convocation is formed. President Fenves presides at the ceremony. As he takes his place at the lectern, the 136th Spring Commencement of The University of Texas at Austin begins.