Academic Trivia: How do I wear my graduation regalia?

We are back today with what has historically been the most popular post on our COMS Department Blog! Today we are answering the burning question for all of you soon-to-be-graduates out there: How do I correctly wear my graduation regalia? Or, as I like to think of it: Fashion Police: Graduation Edition!

A bit of information before we get started:

There are three main pieces to your graduation regalia, all of which are sometimes worn incorrectly (by both students and professors!):

  • The robe itself. Yes, it should ideally be wrinkle-free. Bonus trivia: Did you know your robe signifies the degree you are earning? The size and shape of the sleeves and whether there is any velvet trim indicate whether you are receiving a BA, MA, or PhD. As well, the color of the robe can indicate the academic institution granting the degree (but not always).
  • The hood. It can’t actually be worn as a hood, but it is called a hood nonetheless. The hood signifies many important things: your degree, area of study, and academic institution (more on this later).
  • The mortar board (that’s the fancy name for your graduation cap). These can also be different based on the degree being awarded.

Graduating COMS majors Laura Moy and Kim Louie answered my call and kindly agreed to model our DOs and DON’Ts!

Here we go, with the DON’Ts first…

DON’T #1: Don’t wear your hood upside down!

Oh Kim! That hood is all wrong!

Oh Kim! That hood is all wrong!

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Academic Trivia #10: How do I correctly wear my academic regalia? (reboot!)

One of our most popular posts (seriously, it almost went viral!) was our “How do I correctly wear my academic regalia?” post. Today’s post is a reboot of that one, but with new models! Ahhh! Many thanks to Cayden and Kylie for their years of service, but it was time for an update. So who was I to call? Future Communication Studies alums Alisha Alvarez, Kelsey Chester, and Emily Genge! Check them out below as they demonstrate the DOS and DON’TS of academic fashion at graduation! First the DON’TS: DON’T #1: You are going to graduation, not a beauty pageant, so don’t wear your hood as a sash, hanging low over your shoulders!

Kelsey, don't wear your hood as a sash!

Kelsey, don’t wear your hood as a sash!

DON’T #2: Your cap should not defy the laws of gravity on graduation day! Women are the most frequent offenders of this rule, although I have seen some men break it too (just yesterday, in fact!).

Your cap shouldn't defy gravity, Kelsey!

Your cap shouldn’t defy gravity, Kelsey!

DON’T #3: Although your hood is called a hood, it is not to be worn as one!

photo 1-2

Alisha, just because it’s called a hood, don’t wear it like one!

DON’T # 4: Don’t hide your USF pride by only showing the white velvet of your hood.

Emily, show us your USF pride! Don't hide it!

Emily, show us your USF pride! Don’t hide it!

DON’T #5: While some caps (such as baseball) can be worn backwards, your graduation cap cannot!

Turn your cap around, Kelsey!

Turn your cap around, Kelsey!

Now for the DO’S! DO #1: Do show your USF pride by flaring out the chevron of gold and Kelly green on your hood! The color of the velvet on your hood signifies your area of study (white is for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences). The chevron of colors on the inside of your hood signify the university granting the degree (green and gold for USF).

Emily is proud of her area of study and her school!

Emily is proud of her area of study and her school!

DO #2: Do wear your cap on the top of your head! It should be flat enough on top so that you could balance a textbook (so last week) or a drink (so this week) on it, if you needed to!

There you go, Kelsey!

There you go, Kelsey!

DOs #3, #4, and #5: Do wear your hood close around your neck, not over your shoulders. Do wear your honors designations, including cords, pins, and medals! Do stand tall and proud! You have achieved something wonderful today! Wear your robes and caps with confidence!

Our COMS majors Kelsey, Emily, and Alisha are graduation fashion DOs!

Our COMS majors Kelsey, Emily, and Alisha are graduation fashion DOs!

A big thank you to Kelsey, Emily, and Alisha! And an even bigger congratulations to them and to all of the USF students who will be graduating tomorrow! We are so proud of you and and your accomplishments! Don’t forget to come to the Communication Studies Department Graduation Reception immediately following the commencement ceremony in LoSchiavo 104, the Getty Study. All of your COMS faculty will be there to congratulate you! We will also have refreshments and a memento for each graduate from the department! Friends and family are invited!


Academic Trivia #9: How do I correctly wear graduation regalia… OR "Fashion Police: Graduation Edition"

At long last, here it is! The most buzzed about post of the semester! The answer to the question: “How do I correctly wear my graduation regalia?” or, as I like to think of it, “Fashion Police: Graduation Edition!”

I was inspired to write this post last graduation, when, yet again, I saw so many students (and some professors!) wearing their graduation regalia incorrectly. I always try to do my part by fixing people’s regalia (uninvited… is that annoying? I don’t know.) to try to minimize the mistakes. But I thought this time around a pictorial how-to-guide would perhaps be most helpful.

Before we get started, there are really three main pieces to your graduation regalia, all of which are sometimes worn incorreclty:

  • The robe itself. Yes, it should ideally be wrinkle-free.
  • The hood. It cannot actually be worn as a hood, but it is called a hood nonetheless. The hood signifies many important things: your degree, area of study, and academic institution.
  • The mortar board.

So, with the assistance of our models, soon-to-be-Communication Studies-graduates Cayden and Kylie, I bring you the DOs and DON’Ts of graduation wear!

Let’s start with the DON’Ts…

DON’T #1: The hood is not actually worn as a hood! Luckily no rain is forecast for the ceremonies tomorrow, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

The hood is not actually worn as a hood!

DON’T #2: The graduation robe is a robe, not a smock! Don’t zip up your robe in the back!

The robe is zipped in the front, not the back!

DON’T #3: Don’t wear your hood upside down! See how terrible this looks from the back? Don’t be like Cayden in this picture!

Don't wear your hood upside down!

Another upside down hood. So sad.

DON’T #4: Don’t be all black and white on your back! You need to show your USF pride on graduation day with the proper amount of green and gold showing!

What's wrong with this? There's too much white showing! Your back needs to be more colorful!

DON’T #5 and #6: Don’t wear your cap backwards! The elastic should go on the back, not on the front! And don’t wear your tassel on the left hand side until after your degree is conferred! That’s right, right before graduation, left after graduation!

Why is Cayden sad? Because his tassel is on the wrong side and his cap is on backwards!

DON’T #7: Don’t let your mortar board defy gravity! Ladies, you are the most frequent culprits of this major graduation fashion no no! Your cap should never be vertical on the back of your head. This looks just absurd (right Katy K?)!

Your cap should not defy gravity!

This is so bad we need another shot! Look at how sad Kylie is because of her cap!

DON’T #8: Don’t wear your hood as a sash! Your hood should be around your neck, not around your shoulders!

Kylie's going to her graduation, not a beauty pageant! Your hood is not a sash!

DON’T #9: Don’t be like Cayden… wear appropriate clothing underneath your robe!

Not okay, Cayden. Not okay.

DON’T #10: Don’t forget to show your major pride! That’s right, the white velvet indicates that you are graduating with a degree in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Don’t hide the white velvet… show it off!

Is there such a thing as too much green and gold? Only on the back of your graduation regalia!

Now for the DOs!

DO #1: Do wear your cap completely horizontal on the top of your head. No one wears big ’90s bangs anymore, so there is no need to move your cap to the back to preserve your hair. You should be able to balance a drink on top of your mortar board, if necessary. (Actually balancing a drink would be a DON’T, of course, but you should be able to).

DO #2: Do wear your tassel on the right-hand side until you are told to move it to the left during the ceremony. Right indicates pre-graduation, left indicates the degree has been conferred.

DO #3: Do wear your hood securely around your neck, with the white velvet on top, flat against your shoulders.

Look how happy Kylie is! She knows she is not committing any graduation fashion mistakes!

Cayden's so happy... he knows no one will be laughing at his graduation regalia!

DO #4: Do make sure that the proper amount of white, green, and gold are on display for all the world to see! What is the perfect amount? The white velvet should be flat against your shoulders. Let the white velvet show for several inches.

DO #5: Do show your USF pride by flipping the inside of the hood out to show the USF school colors! Don’t worry, if you do it correctly, it will stay perfect for the entire ceremony. Look at Kylie and Cayden below!

Ahhh, the perfect amounts of white, green, and gold!


Congratulations to all of our graduates! Again a special thanks and big round of applause to our models, Cayden and Kylie! Remember, don’t be a fashion disaster on graduation day! Be a fashion valedictorian by wearing your regalia in the proper way!


Academic Trivia #8: USF had a football team?

The news from earlier this week that NFL football will be returning this fall with the end of the lockout has football on my mind! Anyone else? In any case, football inspired today’s Academic Trivia question: USF had a football team?

I’ve said it before: I am no athlete, but I am a great fan! And one of the reasons I love sports is that so often they are about more than athletic ability, stats, plays, wins, and losses. The best story, in my opinion, of how this is definitely true is the story of the USF football team. Specifically, the 1951 football team that went “undefeated, untied, and uninvited.”

First, a bit of a history lesson. Yes, USF did have a football team. Football first began at USF in 1917 (when we were still known as the University of St. Ignatius Gray Fog). The first game was played against what is now UC Davis.  We won 13-7. The program ended after one year, though, but returned again in 1924. Interestingly, except for the head coach and the athletic director, all aspects of the program were managed by students. That’s right, students were the assistant coaches and trainers!

The most famous of USF’s football teams is the 1951 football team, which is considered by some to be the best intercollegiate team ever. Nine of the starting players were drafted into the NFL, five became pro-bowlers, and three were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The team had a perfect 9-0 record, with an average score of 33-8. But they didn’t play in a bowl game. Teams that they had beaten were invited, but not USF. They finally received a much-deserved bid to the Orange Bowl, but were told that they could only participate if they left their African American players behind. The team took a stand and declined the bid. Because of the financial losses associated with the program, the 1951 football team was the last team to play football at USF.

The 1951 Dons are the only team in college football history to produce three Hall of Fame players: Ollie Matson, Gino Marchetti, and Bob St. Clair. Burl Toller went on to the become the first African American NFL referee. And the sports information director at the time, Pete Rozelle, went on to become the NFL Commissioner (check your footballs at home… one probably has his name on it!).

The team was honored during the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. Check out the video of their story here:


The members of the 1951 football team were given well-deserved honorary doctorates at the 2006 Commencement ceremonies.

The history lesson comes courtesy of Dr. Alan Ziajka’s book Legacy & Promise: 150 Years of Jesuit Education at the University of San Francisco. You can purchase your own copy at the USF bookstore for $18.55 (get it?). You can also check out the great t-shirt in the bookstore honoring USF’s football history:

So, yes, USF did have a football team. A great one, both on and off the field. Incidentally, I think the story of our football team would make an excellent movie. Any takers, Hollywood?


Academic Trivia #7: What is a Jesuit?

Anyone associated with the University of San Francisco is obviously familiar with the term “Jesuit.”  However, I think that many people perhaps only have a vague understanding of what a Jesuit is, so I thought it would be appropriate to answer the question “What is a Jesuit?” in today’s Acadmic Trivia post.  I also thought, who better to answer that question that an actual Jesuit?!  We are lucky today to have Fr. Dennis Recio, S.J., answer the question for us.  Fr. Recio is a a member of the Jesuit Community here at USF and teaches Asian-American literature and Composition/Rhetoric courses for the Saint Ignatius Institute.  Here is Fr. Recio’s answer to the question “What is a Jesuit?”

“The Society of Jesus is a religious order of priests and brothers within the Catholic Church. They are also known as Jesuits. The founder, Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the youngest son from a noble Basque family, established the order with six companions on August 15, 1534 at Montmartre, Paris. On September 27, 1540, Pope Paul III approved the first outline of the order known as the Prima formula instituti [1]. In the same year, Ignatius was elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Among the most significant writing produced by Ignatius of Loyola was The Spiritual Exercises. Arranged into four weeks, Jesuits participate in a 30-day silent retreat during the novitiate, the first two-years of a Jesuit’s religious formation. Guided by a seasoned spiritual director, The Spiritual Exercises provides Jesuits with a religious foundation by praying through the life of Jesus Christ. The order’s motto is A.M.D.G. (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam) which translates: For the greater glory of God [2]. Students who have attended Jesuit secondary schools may recall writing A.M.D.G. at the head of their papers before submission, emphasizing that the work we do in all our ministries, including studies, is for the purpose of seeking God’s greater glory.

Bust of St. Ignatius of Loyola inside our own St. Ignatius Church. Bonus trivia: The bust is supposedly set at the same height as St. Ignatius actually stood.

Members of the Jesuits are either priests, candidates preparing for priesthood, or brothers. Candidates preparing for priesthood fall into two categories. Men in their first two years of religious life are known as novices and reside at the novitiate, a religious community in which a staff of ordained Jesuits train novices in preparation for first vows. During this time, novices will: deepen their prayer life, partake in The Spiritual Exercises, study the Constitutions of the order, perform menial tasks (as reflective of a life of humility), and participate in various ministries, usually involving work with the poor, in the larger community. After first vows, novices become scholastics and continue through three phases before priestly ordination: First Studies (in which men study philosophy), Regency (in which men work in either a high school or another apostolic work), and Theology (in which scholastics seek to complete a Master’s in Divinity). Upon entrance to the Society of Jesus, Jesuits can expect to spend an average of ten to twelve years in formation before seeking ordination.

The Jesuit Seal

Upon ordination, men will usually work in a ministry of some kind which allows them to develop their Sacramental life as a priest. For example, a Jesuit might be assigned work as an associate pastor of a parish where he will offer mass regularly, preside at baptisms, funerals, and weddings, and participate in the life of the local community. Other men might continue on to doctoral studies while others may work in community organizing or administration. After a certain period of active ministry, the provincial, the leader of the province in which the man lives, can invite the Jesuit to participate in Tertianship, which is the final phase of probation. Tertianship is a specific period of formation, usually eight months, in which an ordained Jesuit returns to a formation community and repeats portions of the novitiate which includes the 30-day retreat. During this time, the man continues to deepen even further his relationship to Jesus Christ through prayer and sustained reflection.

Although Jesuits participate in various ministries, we are commonly known for having run colleges and universities. As early as 1551, Jesuits had begun to open schools at a rate of about four or five per year and sought to establish more. In a letter from one Jesuit to another, it was understood that there were two ways of helping one’s neighbor: first, through colleges (or high schools) in which one could instruct the youth in letters, learning, and the Christian life. The second way was through sermons (what has become known as homilies), reconciliation, etc. However, it was understood that schools were understood as a “super-category equivalent to that into which all the other consueta ministeria fell”[3].

Fr. Recio, S.J., teaching class

In relation to other religious orders, Jesuits have a considerably lengthy period of training (or formation). Aspirants to ordination can enter with a college degree and still expect to spend roughly ten to twelve years in schooling and training. Having entered the Society in Jesus in 1993, I spent my novitiate in Culver City, California where the novitiate for the California Province is currently located. After taking first vows in August ’95, I went on to study philosophy before teaching high school in San Francisco and Los Angeles. After the period of regency, I studied for a Master’s in Divinity near Boston and returned to California Province where I was ordained on June 12, 2004.”

A very special thanks to Fr. Recio for taking the time to answer this question so thoughtfully (complete with footnotes!).  Our Jesuit education is a point of pride here at USF, and I think this teaches us all more about what it means to attend a Jesuit university.  A thought for our Communication Studies majors: Given the requirement of a 30 day silent retreat, I wonder how many communication students have become ordained Jesuits?  I’m not saying that you couldn’t do it, just that it would be quite a challenge!  Thank you, Fr. Recio, for joining us here on the blog!  Do you have an academic trivia question that you want answered?  Send it to me at edoohan@usfca.edu

[1] “Jesuits.” The New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd edition. 2003. 779-795.

[2] Ibid, 780.

[3] John W. O’Malley, The First Jesuits. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993. 200


Academic Trivia #6: What do professors do during intersession?

Vacationing on a tropical island in the Caribbean, browsing the couture boutiques on the Champs-Elysees, dancing in the latest LA hotspot, gleefully watching the Washington Huskies beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Holiday Bowl.  All, except for the last one (yay Huskies!), are things that your Communication Studies professors were not doing over intersession!  You know, intersession, that long break between December 18th and January 20th?  Are we just lucky and get a super long vacation?  The answer: No! 

You may remember from an earlier post (Academic Trivia #2: What is tenure?  If you missed it, you can read it here: http://blogs.usfca.edu/coms/2010/12/03/academic-trivia-2-what-is-tenure/) that professors are evaluated on three aspects of their job: teaching, research, and service.  Most professors use the intersession break to work on these three different parts of our jobs.  To prove it, I put a call out to all of the other Communication Studies faculty and asked them what they have been working on over intersession.  Here’s what I heard back:

Professor DeLaure: “I have been finishing up a critical analysis essay on No Impact Man (a blog, book, and film about Colin Beavan, a guy in New York City who tried to live for a whole year making zero net impact on the environment).  This project builds upon two conference presentations on NIM: at Western States Communication Conference in Alaska last February, and at the National Communication Association conference in SF this past November.  I have also been developing a new First Year Seminar for Fall 2011 on Environmental Rhetoric (it will be a public speaking Core course).  Tentative title is ‘GreenSpeech: Communication and the Environment.'”  

We will be featuring Professor’s DeLaure’s new First Year Seminar on a “Class Notes” post before fall registration opens (yes, you’ll have to wait until then!).  You can check out the NIM blog that Professor DeLaure is analyzing here: http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/

Professor Thorson: “Over the holiday break, I’ve been writing a piece on communication dilemmas which adult children experience after becoming aware of their parents’ infidelity.  For this project, I interviewed 38 individuals who indicated that one or both of their parents engaged in infidelity at some point during their marriage.  I am in the process of analyzing these data and connecting the results to theorizing on communication and privacy management.”

Professor Doohan: After practicing my Spanglish with my in-laws over Christmas, I spent time updating my courses for the spring and returning to data that I had previously collected on married couples who perceive themselves to be fundamentally different from their partner in an important way.  I worked on writing a literature review on this topic of similarity and difference in marriage (yep, we write literature reviews!).

Professor Ho: “I submitted a literature review about best practices for health communication with Chinese Americans about diabetes and I’m working on a paper analyzing print health education documents about diabetes in light of those best practices.”  See, another literature review!

And from what I know, Professor Jacquemet was travelling to Italy doing fieldwork for his research, Professor Whaley was teaching COMS 358: Persuasion and Social Influence, and Professor Burgess was working on her book (on the SS Sabbatical).  So, no long vacation for any of us! 

Do you have a question about our department, professors, or academic life?  Send it to me at edoohan@usfca.edu and I will answer it in an upcoming edition of “Academic Trivia.”


Academic Trivia #5: Why are we the USF "Dons"?

While a departure from the usual topics of my “Academic Trivia” posts, this one was just too good for me to pass up!  I was recently reading Professor Brandon Brown’s blog on the John Lo Shiavo, S.J. Center for Science and Innovation (you can check it out here: http://heartofcampus.wordpress.com/) where he alluded to the fact that the Don has not always been USF’s mascot.  I questioned Brandon futher on this interesting tidbit of USF lore, and he passed on the following information to me, courtesy of Dr. Alan Ziajka, Director of Institutional Research.

Up until 1931, we were known as the San Francisco “Grey Fog.”  Can you believe it?  I wonder if we had an actual mascot and, if so, what it looked like?  If anyone out there has a picture, do send!  In any case, back to our story.  I am quoting directly from Dr. Ziajka here. 

“In November 1931, USF’s student body president, George Ososke, received a letter from the San Francisco Junior Chamber of Commerce critical of the university’s use of the term ‘Grey Fog’ to designate its athletic teams.  The Junior Chamber of Commerce felt that the name did not give a positive image to the city and potentially hurt advertising.  The Foghorn published a series of letters addressing the issue of a possible name change for the athletic teams, followed by a contest to come up with a new name.  Student interest in the contest for a new name for the athletic teams was minimal and only a few names were submitted, including Vigilantes, Golden Gaters, Seagulls, Seals, and Sea Lions.  These and other possible names were voted on by a committee composed of four undergraduates, four alumni, and four administrators, selected by Father President Edward Whelan, S.J.  In January 1932, The Foghorn announced the new name for the university’s athletic teams: ‘the Dons.’  Jack Rhode, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, and sports editor for The Foghorn, had the honor of having his suggestion chosen as the official athletic nickname for the university, replacing the Grey Fog.”

Isn’t that a great piece of trivia?  Here’s more.  Last year, my little nephew Ben came to visit and found the Don doll that I have at home, which he played with throughout his visit.  He liked it so much that I told him I would take him to the USF Bookstore to buy a Don of his own.  When I went there, I couldn’t find a Don, so I asked a bookstore employee where they were.  He told me that the bookstore had to stop selling the Don doll because the Zorro people said that he clearly wasn’t the Don, but was obviously Zorro, and that they would sue unless they stopped selling them!  Ben then thought that his Uncle Kevin would give him our Don doll, but Kevin, an avid collector, wouldn’t let go of it because it is evidently rare now!  Here’s the Don doll of which I speak:

The Don

Special thanks to Brandon Brown and Alan Ziajka for this interesting information from USF’s history!  You can read more USF history in Legacy and Promise: 150 Years of Jesuit Education at the University of San Francisco by Alan Ziajka, available at the USF Bookstore. 

I happen to love our mascot, The Don (in spite of some of the negative connotations)… do you?


Academic Trivia #4: Do my professors write articles?

Hello everyone, and happy new year!  I was thinking to myself, “what better way to start the new year than with an “Academic Trivia” post?!”  So here we go…  If you are a current student or an alum, you have definitely read your share of academic articles and have noticed that the authors of those articles work at universities.  So, I thought I would answer the question of whether the professors in our department write articles like those you read in your classes.  The answer?  Yes, we do!  As proof, I put a call out to the professors in our department asking for their most recent publication, just to give you an idea (our profs names are in bold).  Here is what I heard back:

Burgess, S.  (in press).  Foucault’s challenge to law.  The International Journal of Law in Context.

DeLaure, M.  (2008).  Planting seeds of change: Ella Baker’s radical rhetoric.  Women’s Studies in Communication, 31(1), 1-28.

Doohan, E. M., Carrère, S., & Riggs, M.  (2010).  Using relational stories to predict the trajectory toward marital dissolution: The oral history interview and spousal feelings of flooding, loneliness, and depression.  Journal of Family Communication, 10(1), 57-77.

Ho, E. Y., & Robles, J. S. (in press). Cultural resources for health participation: Examining biomedicine, acupuncture and massage therapy for HIV-related peripheral neuropathy. Health Communication.

Jacquemet, M.  (in press).  The search for referential accuracy: Evoking (and abusing) proper names in asylum hearings.  Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.

Thorson, A. R.  (in press). Parental infidelity: Adult children’s accounts and attributions for their parents’ extramarital relationships.  In L. M. Webb & F. C. Dickson (Eds.), Communication for families in crisis: Theories, methods, strategies.  Cresshill, NJ: Hampton Press.

“In press” just means that the article hasn’t been published yet, but it will be published in the coming months (that is why the citation is incomplete, for all of you APA junkies out there!).  Have any of you read articles by the professors in our department?  Respond back if you have!

Do you have a question that you want answered in an upcoming edition of Academic Trivia?  Write me at edoohan@usfca.edu.