The Legacy Robe
Traditions abound during the holiday season. From family customs to those in the academic setting, traditions share with others both a person's background and values. At UH-Clear Lake, we have one little known tradition: the academic regalia worn by President William A. Staples at each commencement ceremony.
During Staples' first semester as UHCL president in 1995, Mary Ann Shallberg, executive associate to the president, asked if he would like to wear Alfred R. Neumann's original academic gown. Neumann was UHCL's founding chancellor (the university's title for president at the time) and, with his wife, was instrumental in starting the university from scratch. President Staples was honored to wear Neumann's regalia. Feeling fortunate to be president of UHCL, he also hoped to live up to the tradition, expectations and vision that Neumann had seen for this university.
Inside Neumann's robe, which he first wore when he received his doctoral degree from the University of Michigan, the name "A. R. Neumann" is embroidered in yellow stitching.
"Every time I go to commencement and put on Dr. Neumann's robe, I see his name and think of the role that both he and his wife had in establishing the university," states Staples. "It is a great reminder and it centers me prior to walking on stage."
Thirty years has elapsed since Neumann stepped down as chancellor and Staples hopes that Neumann would still be proud of what the university has become in its 39-year history.
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