It was graduation weekend. The graduation program has information about the robes and hoods including detailed descriptions of each of the colors and the variants. There is information on the stripes of a doctoral robe. But what about the hats?
Tanya Coyle @SLPTanya was the first to ask about this on Twitter after I posted a selfie of me with some other graduates. We then had a discussion about hats and regalia in general. I knew that my style hat was actually an “upgrade” purchase with my gown. There were different “models” to choose from when I graduated from my Ph.D. program and I elected for the “medium” package which included some stylized accents and rounded hat rather than mortar board style hat.
The same day I had my exchange with Tanya, a unknown person asked me about my hat after the ceremony. Beyond talking about my “upgrade” I really didn’t have any further information. In fact on the third instance when someone asked about the mortar board, I was still without any insight. For me, a three time point of inquiry from different, independent sources within two days calls at least for a Wikipedia search. So that’s what I did…
Evidently my gold tassel is reserved for the doctoral hat. The information is from the American Council on Education according to Wikipedia. Although I frequently thought of my hat as a beret, it actually is a “tam“. In the deep recesses of my memory I seem to recall tam was the box I checked, but I can’t be sure. It also was interesting to learn that in some countries a personalized hat is prepared by one’s workgroup members and reflects one’s area with different trinkets and symbols of the profession. Although the undergraduate ceremony featured a number of customized hat decorations, I did not notice any Ph.D. ones. An interesting tradition. As someone interested in symbolic communication, it is definitely something to think about.