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Commencement Traditions

Tarleton State University is proud of our unique history and continually promotes its traditions. Many of these traditions have a special connection with commencement.

International Flags

International flags arranged on stage during commencement

Tarleton is committed to being a globally-oriented university that welcomes students from a wide range of ethnicities, religions, cultures and life experiences. In celebration of Tarleton's community of international students, we proudly present the flags of their home countries at each commencement ceremony. Currently, we have students from approximately 30 countries around the world.

University Mace

University mace on display at ceremony

The mace is a ceremonial staff traditionally displayed as a symbol of authority. Historically, the use of a mace dates back to the middle ages and was carried before or placed near a magistrate or other dignitary as an ensign of authority. The University Mace is borne by the President of the Faculty Senate at the head of all academic processions. Tarleton unveiled a new mace on the inauguration day of its 15th President, Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio. The new University Mace is turned out of walnut and has a headpiece with cast bronze Tarleton seals mounted on four sides. Crowning the headpiece is a three-dimensional, bronze-plated flame of knowledge, which sits above three polished bands of bronze that represent Tarleton's past, present and future.

College Banners

Tarleton gonfalons at graduation

Gonfalons, banners which are designed to hang from a crossbar, have historical roots dating back to the 12th century when they served as the official emblems to represent the various districts of Florence, Italy. In more recent times, gonfalons have been adopted by academia to serve as symbols to represent each college within a university.

Tarleton State University has a university gonfalon featuring the university seal and seven gonfalons representing the seven colleges honored during commencement ceremonies. The Tarleton gonfalons feature the colors of the university, purple and white, along with the university’s primary visual identity mark.

The banner was developed from a type of Roman cavalry flag which was a rectangle piece of cloth attached to a crossbar fastened to the head of a spear. This type of standard was eventually adopted by the Roman emperors and held a large flag of silk embroidered in gold. The banner in medieval times was a heraldic flag that indicated the presence of a monarch, prominent person or commander. Over the years, it has been adapted to represent a variety of institutions and normally bears the symbol of the institution.

Purple Pigs

Graduating Purple Poo members holding pigs with the president.

Graduating members of the TTS/TTP (Purple Poo) will hand the President a purple pig as they cross the stage.


Tarleton seal on purple and white tassel

Tassels have long been part of graduation regalia. Tassels are worn on the caps of undergraduates on the right side until they receive the bachelor's degree. A time-honored tradition at commencement ceremonies involves the symbolic movement of the tassel from the right to the left. Students will be given this opportunity during the commencement ceremony.

Turning Rings

Female graduate turning ring over on finger.

Turning Rings is an important tradition at our commencement ceremonies. At the university's official ring ceremony, we ask that you wear your ring with the "T" facing in until you graduate. For those graduates who wear a Tarleton Class Ring, they will be given the opportunity to turn their ring so the "T" faces out during the commencement ceremony so the world will then know the student is a Tarleton grad.

Color Song

Graduates singing the color song

"Oh! Our hearts with joy are thrilling
when the Tarleton Colors wave,
And our Spirits rise with rapture
when the Tarleton sons are brave;
Fight for Victory, Fight for Honor,
And success will crown the fight;
All hail the proud defenders of the
Purple and the White!"

On Ye Tarleton (Fight Song)