Graduate receives honour of leading graduation procession and unveiling new ceremonial mace

Friday, 01 September 2017

Rhys Herbst 800x450

An Oxford Brookes graduate had the honour of carrying the University’s new ceremonial mace at its inaugural graduation ceremony today (Friday 1 September).

Rhys Herbst, who graduated in June from the Foundation Art and Design course, designed the mace as part of a student design competition and will carried the artefact at the first of the September graduation ceremonies. 

Rhys also joined senior members of staff on the platform for the duration of the ceremony. Leading the procession is a role usually reserved for the University’s Academic Registrar.

The mace was my first meaningful design project – the experience and success that followed ultimately gave me the confidence to continue with graphic design, which over the summer has turned into a successful small-time business of mine. I have also received a place at Oxford Brookes on its renowned Architecture course, which is where I hope my career in design will lead in the future.”

Rhys Herbst, Oxford Brookes University graduate

Rhys’ design, which was chosen by students and staff from a shortlist of three, is based on the oak tree representing the University’s strong foundations, as well as its environmental ethos. The acorn at the base symbolises the foundations of Oxford Brookes and its beginnings as a School of Art in one room of the Taylor Institution in 1865. An elegant silver handle is engraved with the Oxford Brookes logo. 

The crest of 180 oak leaves at the top represent those studying at Oxford Brookes with a second ring of 30 leaves embodying staff at the University.

Silversmiths and mace manufacturers Fattorini Ltd recently invited Rhys to visit their factory in Birmingham so that he could learn about the processes involved in creating such an object.

Mace 800x450Commenting about the design experience and the opportunities it has provided, Rhys said: “I am both honoured and excited to have been given the chance to take part in such a humbling occasion. 

“The mace was my first meaningful design project – the experience and success that followed ultimately gave me the confidence to continue with graphic design, which over the summer has turned into a successful small-time business of mine. 

“I have also received a place at Oxford Brookes on its renowned Architecture course, which is where I hope my career in design will lead in the future.”

A mace symbolises the authority of an organisation, institution or a person and can be found in parliaments and royal palaces across the globe. Many universities also have a mace and it is an essential part of official ceremonies such as graduations and other civic and external ceremonial occasions.

The design competition was launched in October 2016 when students and recent alumni were invited to submit a concept and initial design to an outline specification. Entries closed in late November and a final shortlist of three designs was selected by Vice–Chancellor Professor Alistair Fitt. 
Professor Julie McLeod, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) said: “At Oxford Brookes University, we encourage our students to develop skills around enterprise and creativity and one example of this is through student design competitions. 

“The new mace will grace ceremonial occasions for many years to come. We were delighted to welcome Rhys to the graduation platform and I thank him for his outstanding design.”

Rhys graduated from the Foundation Art and Design course in June and will begin studying at Oxford Brookes’ School of Architecture in September.

The mace is part of the Oxford Brookes University's public art collection. More information can be found on the University's public art webpages.