Summer 2009 Vol. VII, No. 4
History and Development
of the Mace
In this inaugural year, a team from the Department of Architecture and Design was commissioned to redesign the AUB mace. Although the mace was originally a weapon of defense, it is now most strongly identified with academic processions at formal university occasions. Three metallic rings bearing AUB’s Latin motto and the name of the university in an Arabic script and in English are inlaid in a polished wood shaft crafted from a 7,000-year-old cedar log. The mace head “flame” symbolizes both hope and the light of knowledge; the base is adorned with a replica of a Roman coin bearing the word “Berytus.”
Although the mace was originally a weapon of defense, in modern
times it has become most strongly identified with academic processions
at formal university occasions, such as the inauguration of presidents
and opening ceremonies. To commemorate his inauguration as the
15th president of the American University of Beirut, President Peter F.
Dorman commissioned a team from the Department of Architecture
and Design to redesign the AUB mace. With advice and guidance from
many members of the university community, Associate Professor Zeina
Maasri (MGD ’96), Hatem Imam (MGD ’00), and Jana Traboulsi
(MGD ’00) designed the new mace that is being used for the first
time during the inauguration ceremonies for AUB’s 15th president
on May 4, 2009.
The redesigned mace has a polished wooden shaft crafted from a
7,000-year-old cedar log, which has been preserved and is on display on
the AUB campus. The ancient wood is inlaid with three metallic rings
bearing engraved inscriptions that represent the heritage of academia and
the history of Lebanon and the University: AUB’s Latin motto, UT VITAM HABEANT
ABUNDANTIUS HABEANT (“that they may have life, and have it abundantly”); the
name of the University in an Arabic script derived from a Kufic model; and the name of the
University in English. The shaft captures AUB’s essential connection to Lebanon, its deep
roots in the local environment, and its rich and diverse community.
The mace head is formed by a flame crafted in metal and enclosed within a metallic ring.
The flame is fashioned of modern curvilinear shapes sculpted in thin ribbons to reflect
light, symbolizing both hope and the light of knowledge that has guided generations of AUB men and women as they look toward the future. The
ring, which holds the flame, symbolizes AUB’s global reach
and aspirations – its far-flung alumni and its commitment
and contributions to a sustainable and humane world.
Serving as a link to university heraldic tradition, the base of
the mace is adorned with a replica of a Roman coin bearing
the word “Berytus” and a trident enclosing two stars, with a dolphin entwined about
its shaft – the symbols that inspired the original university mace as well as the shields
of the University’s six faculties.
As President Dorman explains, “the new mace embodies many essential characteristics
of AUB in subtle yet beautiful ways, with a strong look back toward the University’s unique
heritage in Lebanon. It is at the same time a model of tactile elegance and modernity.”