Commencement

Commencement 2017 will start at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 21, and will be held in the city square adjacent to the Blagoevgrad Municipality building. 

Specific information about events, activities and procedures related to Commencement 2017 will be posted as it becomes available.

The information on this page relates to Commencement Weekend 2017.

What is the Commencement Ceremony

The Commencement ceremony is a symbolic landmark in your educational career. It symbolizes the completion of a course of study and the conferral of the degree. Begun in the Middle Ages, the ceremony involves many venerable traditions, including the wearing of “academic regalia.” The colored gowns, hoods, capes and tassels and the distinctive caps and mortarboards evolved from attire worn when Commencement was still a religious ceremony associated with ordination. As educational institutions became more secular, the clothing took on a new significance. Today the colors and designs symbolize the degree, the field of study, and frequently the university granting the degree.

Future Commencement Dates
  • Class of 2017: Sunday, May 21, 2017
  • Class of 2018: Sunday, May 20, 2018
University Symbols

Since 1991, two symbols have expressed the ideals
held by the American University in Bulgaria, the University Medallion and the University Mace. They both have Thracian origins after the ancient inhabitants of the lands along the Struma river. The design of both symbols is the original creation of Mr. Hristo Apostolov, a local artist.

The University Medallion is worn by the President. Its circular shape declares that there is no end to learning. The Sun of Enlightenment shines on the Horse of Grace, the Lion of Power, and the Owl of Wisdom.

The University Mace is borne by the Faculty Marshall. A pair of Thracian stalwart griffins protect the American University in Bulgaria; their tails point to the two respective countries on the Earth. The Bulgarian-American partnership is further reflected in the text portraying Cyrillic and Latin bodies of knowledge. The mace is made of walnut for its durability.

Academic Regalia

The robes, hoods, caps, and tassels worn by graduates and faculty have evolved over at least 700 years. Originally, robes similar to those seen today were worn by everyone in the early Middle Ages. As tastes in clothing changed, only members of the clergy retained traditional robes. The first European universities were church-related, so students and faculty wore clerical robes on all occasions.

Nowadays three types of robes are distinguished for the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The doctoral robe has three stripes on the sleeve as an indication of this highest academic degree.

Hoods, which hang on the back of the robe, are now mere abbreviations of their original form; they began as cowls to be pulled over the head for warmth. The color of the hood indicates the area of study pursued by the wearer and the university attended.

Caps have evolved into a distinctive square shape but were originally round. The shape resembles the tool workers use to hold cement and plaster in the construction of a building, so these caps are called “mortarboards.”

Tassels are generally worn on the left side of the cap to indicate the degree has been conferred, so all faculty wear theirs on the left. Graduating students begin their Commencement ceremony with tassels on the right but move them to the left when their degrees are awarded.

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