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From left: Brett Winter, Nate Wickham, Dave Malec, Adonis Gardner and Wendy Hall present OSU President Kayse Shrum with the academic mace.

Team Effort: Cowboys work together to create ceremonial mace

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

Ceremonial maces have been carried as symbols of rank and authority since the Stone Age.

In celebration of Dr. Kayse Shrum’s presidential inauguration, the executive leadership team at Oklahoma State University looked inward for a modern take on the tradition.

Maces in an academic setting have been used as symbols of internal authority and independence from external authority since the 15th century in Europe. The mace is generally carried by the highest ranking academic at the institution and serves as a physical embodiment of the academic mission of each institution. The university mace is most often used during formal academic ceremonies such as commencement and other formal processions.

“We understand the importance of the tradition of the mace,” said Dr. Jeanette Mendez, OSU provost and senior vice president. “This process has given a lot of others a glimpse into the nuanced world of academia and why these traditions mean so much to us.”

With the university entering a new era under President Shrum, the idea was proposed to create a meaningful symbol of the university’s new direction and leadership. Rather than search for an outside party, the decision was made to explore the possibility of having the mace designed, constructed and maintained completely by OSU faculty, staff and students.

“We wanted to tap into the resources we have here on campus,” said Megan Horton, interim associate vice president of Brand Management. “We felt an institutionally designed and constructed mace would embody our modern land-grant mission.”

Dave Malec, lead designer for the Department of Brand Management, began drawing inspiration from anything and everything at OSU. The roofline of historic Old Central was a clear favorite to serve as the crown of the mace. Malec also drew inspiration from the Georgian window architecture found around campus, providing arched windows that would support the Old Central crown.

The mace also features other iconic OSU symbols, such as the logo, academic seal and the words “Loyal and True” emblazoned on the staff.

“It was a unique experience,” Malec said. “The biggest challenge was remembering that we weren’t working with a two-dimensional object, but that things had to line up and fit together well once they were created in 3D.”

Those challenges were lessened by a group of faculty, staff and students from the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology’s (CEAT) ENDEAVOR lab, led by lab coordinator Wendy Hall.

Her team, consisting of Dr. Joe Connor, an adjunct assistant professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and students Nate Wickham and Brett Winter, were asked to use their expertise and access to manufacturing equipment across campus to help design and ultimately construct the entirety of the mace.

The ENDEAVOR team started work in June to 3D model, fabricate and construct the mace, which stands about 5 feet tall. The finished product consists of a detachable crown, made of 45% 3D printed material, and the wooden staff. The detachable crown was intentionally designed so that when not in use at a ceremonial function, it will be housed in a display case in President Shrum’s office for visitors to see.

“It’s a huge honor to be involved with this project,” Hall said. “Not only is it something that will be a part of the university for years to come, but it was an opportunity to highlight the things we can achieve in CEAT, in ENDEAVOR and with our amazing students.”

Hall said the project provided a valuable learning opportunity for students.

“We are a learning institution, and I love the fact that we can take on a project like this and I can use it as a learning process for my students,” she said. “This type of project gives me the ability to teach the entire manufacturing process to my students, from start to finish.”

The university is now home to a one-of-a-kind piece that was completely designed and created by Cowboys. That’s a point of pride for the university and the students, faculty and staff who lent their talents to the project.

“I could’ve never imagined doing something like this when I came to CEAT and OSU,” said Wickham, a mechanical and aerospace engineering junior. “To be able to say I worked on something so important to the university is truly amazing.”

The finished product will serve as a symbol of the university for years to come, but the story behind its construction embodies the visionary mission of becoming a modern land-grant institution.

“We were hoping to get a mace,” Horton said. “But in the end, we got so much more.” 

Photos by: Gary Lawson and Wendy Hall

Story by: Jeff Hopper | STATE Magazine

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