Traditions and History
Since its founding in 1878, The University of Western Ontario has been consistent in its use of the spelling "honor" rather than "honour" on diploma parchments, in Senate minutes and in academic calendar materials. Periodically over the years the Senate has reviewed this practice; the most recent review occurred in April 2019, and as a result, beginning in February 2020, Western is changing “Honors” to “Honours” on degree diplomas.
The designation will eventually change in all occurrences at Western, including all academic programs and modules, and academic policies; however, the initial impact will be degree diplomas.
Beginning February 2020, alumni with “Honors” degrees can request a replacement with the “Honours” designation in line with the Request for a Duplicate/Replacement Diploma procedures and fees.
In the eleventh century, a new vitality quickened all aspects of the civilization of Western Europe. The creative forces thus unleashed soon found expression in new
The medieval university was originally called a studium generale, that is, a place of learning to which teachers and students from anywhere resorted. The first
By the beginning of the fourteenth century, two forms of university organization had appeared. At Bologna, which was primarily a higher school of canon and civil law to which came men experienced in ecclesiastical and secular administration, the control of the studium generale passed to the students; hence Bologna was
Originally the goal of the medieval student was
This year's ceremonies stem from the medieval traditions. The procession of the guild of teachers, whose solemn assembly, or convocation, is the modern equivalent of the medieval
Maces were originally specialized war clubs, frequently made of metal or garnished with metal spikes. When they were used by knights or other noble warriors, they were often highly decorated. Because maces required no special skills and were effective in close
From these early
Western’s mace was presented to the University by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London on the occasion of the installation of Dr. G. Edward Hall as President and Vice-Chancellor at the spring convocation in 1948 to mark the 70th anniversary of the University. It is made of silver and is patterned on the mace used by the University of London, except that it is ornamented with symbols derived from the Western coat of arms. The lens-shaped top of the mace bears a rayed sun raised in shallow relief, taken from the upper part of the Western shield. Below this, running in an ornamental frieze around the outer edge of the head of the mace, are the remaining devices from the shield: an open book, crowned demi-lions derived from the arms of the Rev. Canon Alfred Peache (an early benefactor of the University), and a trotting stag within a ring. The sun on top of the mace appears as a full solar disk to suit the circular shape of the mace, whereas it appears as a half sun at the top of the shield.
Originally this demi-sun was meant to represent a setting or “western” sun, alluding to the name of the University; however, it was later officially blazoned as a rising sun in the grant of arms, symbolizing the “rising” expectations of young graduates. Encircling the ball at the foot of the mace is the Latin motto of the University: VERITAS ET UTILITAS.
"Gonfalon" is defined by the Oxford dictionary as a "banner, often with streamers, hung from a crossbar."
The medieval term represents a time when gonfalons were popular as identifying signs in processional pageants. They represented various republics in medieval
The banners representing the University, its faculties, schools and affiliated colleges whose students are graduating today, are carried into the Convocation Hall at the head of the academic procession and placed in front of the stage. Displayed on the stage are banners representing all faculties, schools and colleges whose students will graduate on other days of Convocation.
The University is appreciative of the work done by members of the Canadian Embroiderers’ Guild, London, who designed and stitched the Convocation banners. The project involved 50 of the Guild’s members and took two years to complete.
Designs and symbols for the faculty banners were suggested by the Dean of the relevant faculty or school, and the hood colours for degrees offered by the unit are incorporated in the banner design. Although conceived with the medieval gonfalons in mind, Western’s banners are modern in design. The banners of the affiliated university colleges carry the Coat of Arms of each.
The gonfalon depicting the University Coat of Arms is dedicated to past President & Vice-Chancellor, K. George Pedersen. It was Dr. Pedersen who initiated the creation of the Convocation banners upon his arrival at Western.
The colourful banners hanging above the stage are a gift from former Chancellor Richard M. Ivey and Dr. Beryl Ivey. The banners represent the hood colours of degrees offered by Western. Ideas for the project were suggested by the Iveys, and London artist-architect David Yuhasz was assigned the task of executing the design for the multi-coloured banners. The banners were first displayed at Spring Convocation 1983.
The Ivey family has been a major supporter of the University for many years. Dr. Richard M. Ivey was Chancellor from July 1, 1980-June 30, 1984.