The doctoral graduating class will represent ACU in a different, distinguished way, wearing new purple regalia at commencement.
Eric Gumm, registrar of the university, said ACU has been using traditional gowns similar to other schools longer than he has been in his position. Previously, regalia was the same for both graduates and undergraduates.
Currently, there are three doctoral programs offered – doctor of ministry, doctor of education, which has graduated three students since last December and the new doctorate of nursing practice, graduating their first cohort this December.
“When we look at other doctorate programs we want, one of the things we consider is how we create a distinctive looking regalia,” Gumm said.
The robes and tams are recognizable during opening ceremonies and commencement. Different faculty have different robes, sometimes reflecting the university they graduated with their doctoral degree from.
“As we graduate doctorates, we want them to have the opportunity to have a robe that was distinctive and reflected ACU,” Gumm said.
In higher education scenarios, or in some cases, a K through 12 setting, Gumm said they want people to recognize that they graduated from ACU.
In addition to distinction, Gumm said another goal is to exude high quality.
“When they look at the gowns and associate them with ACU, they associate it with a quality degree and quality robe,” Gumm said. “That turned out to be a more challenging process than we expected.”
Gumm said ACU’s purple is relatively uncommon amongst higher educations, taking a year to find regalia the university felt proud of.
The university partners with Jostens for undergraduate and masters regalia, but they were unable to produce a purple close to the darker ACU purple. The doctoral candidates will wear regalia made by Oak Hall, the leading company producing doctoral robes. Many Ivy League and large universities partner with the Virginia-based company, according to Gumm.
“They’ve been a really good partners with us so far,” Gumm said.
Gumm said the university signed a contract with Jostens to continue partnering for undergraduate and masters regalia, invitations and diploma frames.
Through Oak Hall, students can either purchase or rent their regalia. ACU is the first school in which students can rent their regalia.
The December graduating class will be the first to showcase the new gowns with a possibility of 20 graduates – one doctorate of ministry, eight doctorate of nursing practice and 11 doctorate of education grads, all of who are online.
“We started as a school that was bachelors and masters degree granting institution with one doctoral program, and now we are broadening our graduate level,” Gumm said. “It’s really showing opportunities for us to speak into those other areas. It gives us a voice into other places, where then the message of ACU can be heard for potential new candidates.”