COMMENCEMENT TRADITIONS

Academic Mace

History was made at Commencement May 9, 2015 when Potomac State College of WVU introduced its own Academic Mace to open and close commencement ceremonies. In addition to symbolizing authority and scholarship, each component of the mace symbolizes an aspect of the College’s rich heritage and history.Academic Mace

  • The head and staff are made from oak, a strong wood to symbolize the institution’s ability to rise up from the tragic 1917 fire, which completely destroyed the West Virginia Preparatory School but endured to become the Potomac State School in 1921.
  • Encircling the head of the mace are four medallions including the official College seal, the “flying WV” logo representing PSC’s long affiliation with the University, “WVP” representing the College’s beginnings as the Keyser Preparatory Branch of WVU, and the first official seal of the Potomac State School designed in 1925.
  • Engraved at the top of the staff are the names of the school’s founders: Colonel Thomas B. Davis and Judge Francis M. Reynolds. Additional engraved accents on the head and staff include the state’s flower, the Rhododendron, to symbolize more than a century of service and commitment to West Virginia.
  • Old gold cords with tassels and navy blue ribbons tout the school colors representing pride, spirit and loyalty to our alma mater.

Engraved near the center of the staff is the College’s charter date – February 15, 1901.

Encased in a compartment in the head of the mace are:

  • Pieces of coal and coke from the former site of the Davis Coal and Coke Company, near Thomas, W.Va., a profitable business that allowed Colonel Davis to make generous donations to the school.
  • A piece of original buff brick from the Preparatory School Building.
  • A donated piece of charred wood, believed to be part of the burned out structure of the Prep School Building, found during the construction of the connector between the Administration Building and Academy Hall in 2007.
  • A piece of red brick from the current Administration Building.
  • An acorn from the massive oak tree in front of Science Hall.

Atop the mace is the College’s mascot, the Catamount, a mountain lion, hand carved by local artisan, Dr. John R. Garton, from Petersburg, W.Va. He describes the wooden carving as, "The resourceful Catamount ascends the summit of opportunity and surveys, with confidence, a future shaped by the students of Potomac State."

The Academic Mace Bearer each year is the faculty member who earns the honor of Outstanding Professor of the Year.

Student Mace

The College carried the tradition further with the addition of a Student Mace at Commencement May 7, 2016, with a smaller, more modern version of the College’s impressive, solid oak Student MaceAcademic Mace, to be carried each year by the Outstanding Student.

On top of the oak staff is a two-sided, gold-plated bronze medal with a “Flying WV” engraved on the front, enameled in old gold and navy blue to identify the College as a proud member of the WVU system. The reverse of the medal nods to the College’s history with Potomac State arched across the top and West Virginia Preparatory School curved across the bottom. The center of the medal is divided into three separate sections containing symbols specific to components of the College: academics, athletics and agriculture. To the left is the stylized owl from the entrance of the Administration Building, to the right is the "fierce cat" logo and at the bottom is a representation of the original barn from the College's "Upper Farm."

The medal is a custom design by College Archivist Patricia S. McGuire and fabricated by the Northwest Territorial Mint-Medallic Art Company of Dayton, Nev.

Engraved on gold-plated bands around the staff are Catamount paw prints canted to the right as if in motion to pay tribute to the current graduating class as they follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. From the commencement ceremonies conducted in the massive Prep School Building, to the marches from the Administration Building across the Quad for ceremonies held in the Lough Gymnasium, to crossing the stage in the Church-McKee Arts Center, all graduates through the years have basically shared the same experience. The actual ceremonies may have differed slightly, but one factor always remains constant -- participants enter as students but depart as graduates and new alumni of Potomac State College of WVU.

The Student Mace Bearer each year is the student who earns the honor of Outstanding Student of the Year.