For Montclair State University’s president, Jonathan Koppell, academic regalia will always be a staple in his wardrobe.
On Sept. 15, Montclair State held a presidential investiture for its ninth president, Koppell.
Traditional formal regalia started all the way back in medieval institutions. Back then, dressing in regalia was not second nature for scholars on the rise. Over time, it became a way for educators to display their hard work through ceremonial attire.
For special officials like Koppell, this regalia is worn at all Montclair State commencement ceremonies, convocations, honorary degree ceremonies and official appearances at other schools.
Koppell explained that this attire is connected to a bigger project within higher education.
“When wearing these robes, we are connecting the work we do today to a project that began more than 1,000 years ago,” Koppell said. “That project is the advancement of humankind.”
Knowing that education is crucial in shaping a person’s future, Koppell emphasized that wearing these robes symbolizes the ability to create change.
Koppell’s regalia walks through the milestones he’s achieved, like graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a master’s and a doctorate in political science.
Starting at the top of the ensemble, Koppell wore an eight-sided doctoral tam (cap) and gold tassels.
This cap is a distinguished version of a traditional graduation cap. The doctoral tam shares the same velvet material as the traditional hood. This hood lays around the neck area and drops below the back.
“The hoods are descended from scholars that used to collect donations for people that supported their work,” Koppell said. “It was considered a normal thing that people would contribute to the work of scholars because it was useful for society.”
Today, the traditional hoods are used to represent where scholars received their diplomas. For Koppell, his hood, designed with black chevron and gold lining, symbolizes his new journey as president of Montclair State.
Koppell’s robe is tailored to size with custom Montclair State emblems. These emblems are sewn to the two gold-trimmed panels that sit in the middle of his chest. His bell sleeves hold an extra set of stripes on each side.
When Koppell spoke for the first time at the investiture, he mentioned his extra set of stripes.
“The more stripes the better, that’s what I hear,” Koppell said.
While these stripes may be a simple design; it stands as a symbol of achievement and dedication. His academic regalia inspires others to join the fight for the advancement of humankind.
Koppell is still finding ways to fight new missions within the Montclair State community. His main goals are to push public service, community engagement and student success.
When looking at these aspirations for the university, it is empowering to notice where it all started. Almost 114 years ago, Montclair State held its class of 100 students in College Hall. That building, known today as Cole Hall, serves great significance to the Red Hawk community.
That building is now engraved in the university chained medallion and is worn by Koppell.
“In some ways, we are all linked together,” Koppell said. “It means that I’m a part of a bigger project in turning Montclair State into the university that the world needs today.”
This medallion along with the university mace holds great significance. The mace is stamped with Montclair State’s crest and is passed down from former president Susan Cole.
“All these things connect me and connect all of us to the generations that came before and I think that’s powerful,” Koppell said.