Nieuws - 28 maart 2013

Mace bearers' day

Who? Inez de la Mar, the mace bearer - a mistress of ceremonies - of Wageningen University, together with Renata Michel and Arianne van Wijk
What? That is the woman in the black gown with a tinkling mace who orchestrates PhD thesis defences, degree ceremonies and inaugural lectures
Why? She is to host the annual Mace Bearers' Day, at which the 60 mace bearers of the Dutch and Flemish universities will get together. This year in Wageningen for the first time

What are you going to do?
'We are going to attend two guest lectures by Wageningen professors, tour the city of Wageningen, have a drink with the mayor, visit the campus and walk from the Aula to the city hall in mace bearer outfit.
Are you going to talk shop?
'No, the idea is to have a nice day together.'
What does being a mace bearer involve?
'We at Wageningen do not have to carry out any office duties; our function is purely ceremonial. We lend out academic gowns, explain the protocol to the PhD graduate, the paranymph or the professor; we direct the ceremonial proceedings, keep a watch on the time and make sure that there is coffee and tea.'
But Wageningen has three mace bearers.
'That's right. We are part-timers and there are always two mace bearers on duty at a ceremony. It often happens that three PhD defences take place on the same day.'