Doctoral grads will wear a new robe

Doctoral graduates this spring will look a little brighter, not because of their IQ, but because of their redesigned gowns.

A group led by the graduate dean’s office has revamped the robe worn by the doctoral candidates at commencement ceremonies.

“We wanted to move from a more traditional black gown to one that reflected UT Dallas,” said Austin Cunningham, dean of graduate studies.

The new gown is the first departure from the original simple black design that has been worn since the university’s inception, Cunningham said.

Wanda Trotta, assistant to the dean, created the design for the gown, which has been circulated and agreed upon by the Graduate Council, composed of representatives of all UTD’s schools awarding doctorates.

Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, said the gowns are “a quite attractive, not overly gaudy design.”

The gown features two long wide orange stripes down the

middle with green arms. Three orange bars on the arms signify the high achievement of a doctoral degree.

Cunningham said UTD’s colors – green and orange – were difficult to work with.

“We didn’t want something that looked like a peacock,” he said.

The move follows a gradual trend in other schools by using more colorful designs, Cunningham said.

Graduation regalia dates back to the 12th and 13th century, according to the American Council on Education’s Academic Costume Code and Ceremony Guide. The practice developed in England – particularly in Oxford and Cambridge Universities – and has since spread to U.S. institutions.

Graduate robes vary in terms of color, but must stick to a set of accepted standards, Cunningham said. Of his own regalia from Queens University in Belfast, Ireland, Cunningham said, “It makes me look like Superman!”

In conjunction with the robes, doctoral graduates will continue to wear the same hood as before, which the University purchases for all graduates.

Rental prices for the new gowns will approximately double from $26.98 to $50, according to the bookstore. Doctoral graduates purchase the caps for $69.

The gowns will be worn for the first time at spring commencement ceremonies.

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