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MU faculty and students create first university mace

Timothy Maylander

The story of the University of Missouri’s new mace dovetails with the inauguration of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. After all, before Loftin came to Columbia, university administrators didn’t even know what a ceremonial mace was, let alone have one. John Murray, Senior Director of Auxiliary and Service Operations at MU, said a simple question from Loftin is how the ball got rolling on the mace project.

"When Dr. Loftin got to campus and we began the planning of his inauguration, he asked where our mace was." Murray said. "And he was told ‘We don’t know what that is.’ He came to a meeting and talked about what a mace represented and why it was important for our institution, and we said, ‘All right, we’ll get you one sir.’"   

University maces can be traced back to medieval times where the spiked war club was used as a weapon in battle. But misbehaving students need not fear, today’s maces are less deadly and more ceremonial. They can be adorned with gems and crafted with fine metals, making them highly ornamental. A university’s mace is only brought out for special occasions, such as inaugurations and commencement ceremonies. Carl Fuemmeler is a mechanical engineering student at MU.  He described how the mace went from concept to reality. 

"They gave me an idea of what maces generally look like and they told me they wanted to include the dome from Jesse Hall," Fuemmeler said. "After that I took it and ran with it, and after several renovations of the actual design we came to the final product which looked pretty nice."

Gold or silver it has none, but MU’s mace is one of a kind. It was created from original floorboards from Switzler Hall, the university’s oldest standing on-campus building. Its four faces feature brass medallions laser-etched with emblems pertaining to the university: The face of Thomas Jefferson, the original seal of the university, the Columns, and Memorial Union. While those are all throwbacks to tradition, the top of the mace represents MU’s emphasis on the future using cutting edge technology: a model of the Jesse Hall dome created by the university’s 3-D printer. Murray said having the mace not only represent the university, but be made by it, was the only option the design team ever considered.

"That was important to us because we could have ordered one online or out of a catalog, but that didn’t seem right. Except for one element, it was entirely Mizzou Made. That element, though, brought in Columbia," Murray said.

The mace was unveiled for the first time September 18th at a luncheon which preceded Chancellor Loftin’s inauguration, along with a video showing how it was made. Murray said Loftin was overwhelmed with how the mace turned out. As Murray put it, it’s always good to keep the boss happy.

"I didn’t have the right angle, but my wife said he rubbed a tear from his eye as he was watching that, so yeah, I think he was pleased," Murray said.

Loftin was pleased enough to mention the mace in his hour-and-a-half-long inauguration address.

"If you were at lunch today, you saw that video about the making of the mace here. Did you see the pride in those workmen? The craftsmen who built this thing literally put their souls into this. That tells you what kind of character this place has," Loftin said.

Everyone who helped create the first mace in MU’s 175-year history has forever left his or her mark on the university, even if they’ll never get to carry – or swing – the finished work. 

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