About Senate

The Mace

The Mace is the symbol of the authority of Senate.


The Mace is of wrought silver with a shaft of polished hardwood. Emblazoned in gold on the head are the Royal Coat of Arms, the Arms of the Colony of New South Wales and those of the University of Sydney, with decorative motifs employing the rose, the thistle and the shamrock filling the intervening spaces.

The surrounding feature is a Royal Crown, below which is the motto DOCTRINA PARET VIRTUTEM (may teaching promote virtue).

The Mace

The Mace, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

The Mace-bearer

The Mace-bearer, normally the Esquire Bedell, precedes the Chancellor in academic processions at graduations and on other ceremonial occasions, and the Mace has a special stand on the dais in the Great Hall.

History of the Mace

Charles Nicholson, the first Vice-Provost (Vice-Chancellor), suggested that a Mace, to be a symbol of the University's prestige and authority, should be granted by the Crown. This caused some consternation in England, where the Secretary of State for Colonies said he could find no precedent. He considered that it would be better if the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Charles Fitz Roy, were to present one to the University of Sydney on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and in her name.

In June 1854, the Senate agreed to meet the cost of a Mace out of revenue from student fees and one, which may have been designed by Edmund Blacket, was made in New South Wales by Brush and McDonnell.

From 'Record', University of Sydney Archives, 2002

The Mace and the opening of the Sydney Opera House

The University made available on loan the University Mace and a Silver Epergne, presented to Sir Charles Nicholson by the Legislative Council of New South Wales in December 1855, for an Exhibition of Australian Silver held as part of the Festival Fortnight associated with the opening of the Sydney Opera House in October 1973.