The Mace

Digging around in a box of semi-centennial records I came across a short memo from Historian Sanford Higginbotham to the newly arrived President Pitzer. Apparently we had recently acquired a mace—the institution’s symbol of authority—but had not yet quite determined how to operate it:

Semicentennial mace


This made me curious enough to go look for more information and I was lucky enough to find this explanatory letter from Carl Macdowell, who served as assistant to more Rice presidents than anyone should have to:

Mace letter Carl McDowell 1985

Unlike Carl, I have picture of the mace, which is now kept in the reception area between the president’s office and the provost’s office under the watchful eye of both William Marsh Rice and Pauline Warren:

Mace 2014


Bonus: Here I am with Carl at a Glasscock School event in about 2003. Note my intent expression: I believe this is when he was telling me where the bodies are buried.

Me and Carl 2003 Glasscock School 35th

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6 Responses to The Mace

  1. I am rather pleased that the Rice University Mace is engraved with “WRU”.


    Walter R. Underwood

  2. Don Johnson says:

    So how is Carl? Did you write a piece on him? A VERY interesting, long-suffering fellow.

  3. Keith Cooper says:

    You should have a good picture of Nancy Rupp’s with the mace from the Centennial open house at Woodson.

  4. Hate to think who would be smited (smought?) with the University Mace. We Shepherd old-timers all love Carl, too.

  5. George Webb '88, '91 says:

    In the last decade or so of his Rice career, beloved engineering professor Dr Bill Wilson was Chief Marshal, and he relished carrying the mace on ceremonial occasions. There are several pictures of him with it, and in each he has a smile of pure delight. Melissa, I will email those to you. But you can see one of them nicely framed in the Dr Bill Wilson Student Lounge, on the first floor of Abercrombie Lab. If you knew Dr Bill at all, or want to know more about him, you should check out that splendid little room; it is a touching and practical memorial.

  6. Hanszenite says:

    Have you ever seen the maces at Yale? (The one for the whole university is in the upper right corner resting on a pillow.) Quite a contrast to the restraint of Rice’s…

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