Very Random Academic Regalia Questions

As a board member, I’ll be wearing regalia for the high school graduation ceremony on Saturday, and I just realized that since I finished my Ph.D. remotely (having moved to join Kevin in Chicago), I don’t think I actually attended my graduation? I don’t remember wearing doctoral robes previously, which is sort of funny. I think I still have a set of Mills College’s Master’s robes in my closet, which I guess I should donate or something, since I’m not supposed to wear them anymore?

So anyway, I’m trying to make sense of the regalia the high school kindly rented for me. I have three questions:

1) The hood appears to be in black, trimmed in crimson, and deep blue — are those University of Utah colors, or do they reflect my department (English), or the Ph.D itself?

2) The robe is entirely black, but with three velvet bands on the sleeves and a black velvet facing running down the front of the gown. Which is fine, that appears to be the default for an American Ph.D. from a quick googling, but I think I’d also have the option of choosing a color instead. It’s a little unclear to me what that color is supposed to be, though — the University of Utah store pictures the doctoral gown with bands in crimson, which I’m assuming is school colors, but that seems to be wrong, based on Wikipedia — I think it’s supposed to be dark blue velvet:

“The Code calls for the gown trim to be either black or the colour designated for the field of study in which the doctorate was earned. However, in the case of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), although it is awarded for study in any number of fields, the dark blue velvet of philosophy is always used regardless of the particular field studied. For example, if not choosing black trim, a PhD in theology would wear velvet gown trim in dark blue, while a Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) would wear scarlet trim, if not choosing black.”

3) The school has rented a perfectly nice black mortarboard piece of headgear for me, but I think if I wanted, the doctorate entitles me to wear a fetching black velvet tam instead, if I chose. And apparently, I have a lot of options for the tassel: “It has been black, or represented the university’s colours, or the colours of the specific college, or the discipline. The tassel has also been used to indicate membership in national honour societies or other awards.”

None of this is actually important, but I admit to being curious. I’m not typically expected to attend graduation at UIC, so it probably doesn’t make sense for me to buy a set of regalia to use every year — and yet, it’s sort of tempting, especially if I can make it black trimmed in dark blue velvet, with a black velvet tam and dark blue tassel. 🙂

(I am still a little cranky that unlike the University of Helsinki graduates, I don’t get a sword as part of my regalia…I clearly should have chosen my doctoral program more carefully.)


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