Pomp and Circumstance

History that lives in metal, wood, and threads of SCU’s inaugural traditions.

At her inauguration, Santa Clara President Julie Sullivan accepted the reins of leadership of the 171-year-old Jesuit institution—along with some major bling. During the investiture portion of the ceremony, Sullivan received the president’s necklace with medallion, featuring the seal of the University. Here’s a bit of the history behind some SCU inaugural traditions.

Julie Sullivan, Inauguration

Wearing Tradition

In official Santa Clara red, Sullivan’s robe is another nod to medieval history when such academic attire surfaced in Europe’s first universities. By the late 1890s, similar gowns appeared on U.S. college campuses and are now customary for solemn university functions. Some SCU presidents entered wearing the robe of their alma mater.

Engraved in Gold

The President’s chain began as a “regent’s chain,” worn for the first time by the chair of the Board of Regent at SCU’s 1966 commencement. It wasn’t until Paul Locatelli, S.J. wore it at his 1988 inauguration that the chain became a presidential tradition.

Surrounding the inner core of the medal are the words “Universitas Sanctae Clarae in California.” After the “University of Santa Clara” became “Santa Clara University” in 1995, a new seal for the name change was required on marketing materials, but not for the chain.

Pages From The Redwood 1967 1968

Another First

Public inaugurations at Santa Clara didn’t start until Thomas D. Terry, S.J. (pictured) became president in 1968. In 1976, William Rewak, S.J. was the first SCU president elected by the Board of Trustees. Previously, the Jesuit Order’s Superior General in Rome had selected SCU’s “rector,” who effectively served as president.


Carved Tradition

The Bearer of the Mace carries the ornamental staff at public gatherings. It harks back to medieval times when clergy were forbidden to use swords but carried club-like staffs into battle. Two feet long and carved from basswood, the mace is carried by SCU’s longest-tenured-professor—currently Tom Turley.

Scu Seal Outlinedred


The current University seal highlights the words, “Santa Clara University” and its founding year, 1851. In the middle are 13 stars, symbolizing the first American colonies, arching above an American eagle and a shield inscribed with the Jesuit seal of the cross (IHS) and three nails, representing the crucifixion of Christ.

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