Once used as weapons in medieval times, maces are now ceremonial symbols. For a university, a mace symbolizes the independence and authority of the institution, and is typically carried by a senior faculty member during formal occasions.

The Christopher Newport mace was designed by Dr. Nancy Melton, assistant to President James Windsor, and crafted in 1977 by the late Johannes Heuvel, a master cabinetmaker with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Silversmiths at the Foundation later added inlays where institutional milestones and leadership are commemorated. Johannes Heuvel is the grandfather of Sean Heuvel, an instructor in CNU’s Department of Leadership and American Studies, and author of Christopher Newport University, part of the Campus History Series by Arcadia Publishing.

The mace is approximately three feet long and crafted of polished walnut. The two silver inlays around the handle are inscribed with the names of Christopher Newport presidents and rectors of the Board of Visitors. Ornamental silver coins ring the head of the mace and list landmarks in Christopher Newport history, such as the school’s founding, the granting of the first four-year degree, and independence from the College of William & Mary in 1977. It is crowned by the university seal, also in silver.

At CNU, the mace is carried at ceremonial occasions, such as the Community of Scholars Convocation, where the University welcomes incoming freshmen and witnesses their signing of the CNU honor code, and at commencement, among others. At these events the mace is carried by the longest-serving tenured faculty member, currently History Professor Dr. Mario Mazzarella. At the opening of such ceremonies, during the investiture of the mace, the audience stands as the mace bearer leads the procession. At the conclusion of the event, the mace is divested, and carried out at the front of the recessional, often accompanied by music.

This year, at the conclusion of Christopher Newport’s 87th Commencement Exercises, Mazzarella, who is retiring after 44 years of service to the University, will pass the mace to Dr. Sanford Lopater, Professor of Psychology, who will carry it at future ceremonies.