UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 5 | May
Fashionable Congregation Wear
What the Best-Dressed Graduates will be Wearing this Spring
and More Importantly
By Brian Lin
It all started in the Middle Ages.
Congregation gowns and academic dress originated from the
clergy regalia from that period, according to University Relations
Director Chuck Slonecker, who has been running congregation
ceremonies since 1989.
At the time, monks and priests were often brought into
an area by business people, where they were asked to pray
to prevent the spread of the plague and other epidemics. Eventually
they also undertook the responsibility of educating the children
and thats the beginning of academia as we know it.
The priests gowns reflect their religious order
and the monks hoods were designed so the congregation
could toss in their contribution as they walked by. The mortarboard
is associated with Oxford whereas the bonnet originated with
Henry VIII and what was known as the Cambridge Hat.
UBC, like many other Canadian and U.S. universities, follows
the British tradition of academic dress.
Each university can decide the style and colours of
their gowns, within some general rules, explains Eilis
Courtney, associate director of the Ceremonies Office. The
hoods are lined in different colours to represent the different
Undergraduate & Masters
The undergraduate gown, modelled by Sameer Al-Abdul-Wahid
(1), president of the graduating class, is black with long
sleeves. The edged light blue lining in his hood signifies
al-Abdul-Wahids Bachelor of Science degree.
The Masters gown is identical to the undergraduate
gown, with the exception of the full lining in distinctive
colours to signify the graduates degree.
The PhD regalia consist of a maroon silk gown and sleeves
of UBC blue with gold piping. Brian Wilhelm (2), whos
receiving his PhD in medical genetics and his wife Josette-Renee
Landry (3), who is receiving her PhD in genetics, are wearing
the typical PhD gowns, including a hood with blue silk shell
and gold lining.
Faculty members typically wear regalia from their alma mater.
Chuck Sloneckers (4) gown is representative of most
North American PhD gowns. His black gown with velvet chevron
was purchased from his alma mater, the University of Washington,
35 years ago for US$200. The purple and gold of his hood are
UWs colours while the blue signifies his PhD degree
Library, Archival and Information Studies Prof. Luciana Durantis
(5) gown is one of the most colourful among faculty members
at UBC. Adorned with lace around the neck, the gown comes
from Durantis alma mater, the University of Roma in
Its a black gown with red cuffs which are folded
to different lengths and held up by a different cord to signify
your rank and degree, explains Duranti. My gown
has a dark green sash held on the shoulder by a gold rosette
on black velvet. Green signifies archival science and gold
on black is our Faculty (Library and Archival Science) colour.
President, Chancellor and Honorary Degree recipients
The colour and style of the President, Chancellor and honorary
degree recipient gowns are particular to UBC. Honorary degree
recipients wear red gowns lined in blue, purple or cream velvet
for the respective degrees (LL.D., D.S.c. and D.Litt.)