Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.
Academic Regalia at American universities provide a residual hint of our nations's European heritage.
According to Whitworth's graduation program: "Academic regalia is a tradition dating from the Middle Ages, when long robes and hoods were everyday attire, designed to protect against the cold and drafts of medieval halls . . . variations in academic dress are not incidental, but are rich in meaning. Each costume represents both the degree held by the wearer and the institution that awarded it . . . The hood, which is draped down the back, carries more symbolic significance than any other part of the costume. The border, extending over the shoulders to meet in a 'V' at the front, indicates by its colors the discipline in which the degree was earned . . ."
(White represents arts, letters, and humanities; dark blue represents philosophy; red represents theology; and in my case, light blue represents education).
Doctor's regalia is somewhat different, with longer hoods and different hats. It's kind of funny, when I saw all the professors walking around in their academic robes, I decided I have to continue my education and receive a doctor's degree, if for no other reason than to get a really cool costume! Also, as a member of the faculty at the Community Colleges of Spokane, I am allowed to wear my regalia once a year at commencement ceremonies. Isn't it wonderful? :)