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Inauguration reconnects former professor Hall Duncan with symbolic mace nearly 40 years later

Hall Duncan, Ph.D., holds the mace he will carry as he leads the procession at the inauguration of the University of Central Oklahoma’s 20th president, Don Betz, Ph.D. on April 20. Duncan designed the mace in 1975 for the inauguration of retired Central president Bill Lillard. Photo courtesy of UCO Photographic Services.

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

On Friday, April 20, Don Betz Ph.D. will be inaugurated as the new President of the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). Leading the academic procession will be UCO Professor Emeritus, and mace-bearer, Dr. Hall Duncan.

Duncan, a writer, illustrator and lecturer, is the designer of the university’s mace, an ornamented staff of metal and wood. This month, he will carry it as he leads the procession at the inauguration of President Don Betz.

“Oh boy, I didn’t remember it being so heavy,” Duncan said as he sat down to be photographed with the University of Central Oklahoma’s ornate scepter.

Duncan hadn’t seen this symbol of UCO’s academic heritage in 37 years. Now 88 years old, he examined the 34-inch, 9.65-pound mace with affection and familiarity. His sense of recognition with the staff was one only its designer would have.

Duncan’s reunion with his creation occurred when he was offered an invitation to carry the mace and lead the procession during the inauguration investiture ceremony.

The convocation for Dr. Betz to become the 20th president of the University of Central Oklahoma is scheduled for 2 p.m., Friday, April 20 in Central’s Hamilton Field House.

Another inauguration, nearly four decades earlier, led to Duncan’s design of the mace.

In 1975, Duncan, a professor of cartooning and advertising design, was beginning another spring semester at Central State University, as it was formally known. It was the year of the inauguration of the university’s 17th president, Bill Lillard, Ph.D.

When the planning committee commissioned a mace for Dr. Lillard’s inauguration, they called on Duncan to create the new design.

“In the late 1940s, while studying in Scotland, Dublin and Brussels, I became familiar with maces,” Duncan said. “I was honored to design the mace, and I set out to create a dignified, heritage-filled symbol.”
Maces were originally used in medieval Europe as a spiked club for smashing armor. In processionals, the macebearer protected the leader of a kingdom, cathedral or university.

In modern collegiate ceremonies, the mace is a decorative symbol of authority, carried during the processional by an institution’s most senior faculty member.

Hall’s creation is made of walnut and maple woods with bronze bands encircling a carving of Old North Tower, the first building constructed on campus in 1892. The bronze bands converge into a small crown at the top of the mace, which symbolizes the collaboration of the arts and sciences.

“The bronze bands are curved around Old North as a symbol of freedom of thought,” Duncan said. “It’s one of the greatest elements of education – encouraging people to use their minds for the very best.”
Duncan added that his design represents the winds of change that allow fresh thought to flow freely.

“At the center there is a medallion bearing Central’s coat of arms. Among its symbols are the laurel wreath of honor, the lamp of wisdom and the keys to knowledge. The words “Ubi Motus Est,” which translate to “Where Movement Is,” are inscribed at the bottom of the coat of arms,” said Duncan.

One facet of the design is particularly representative of UCO’s newest president. “Two silver bands, one at the top and one below, suggest that we are encompassing the world and working globally,” Duncan said.“ If you spend a short time with President Betz, you pick up on his international values immediately.”

Duncan, now retired from UCO, is excited about the future for the university under Betz’s leadership. He is proud that the values reflected in the design he created decades ago are still relevant to the growth and advancement of Oklahoma’s metropolitan university.

Duncan, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, has published fourteen illustrated books for children and retirees. His cartoon strips, illustrations and articles have appeared in African and American magazines and newspapers. He has been honored by the National Education Association and Writer’s Digest for his children’s publications and was the recipient of the Governor of Oklahoma’s Arts Award in 2008 for his lifetime dedication to the education of children through the arts.

A resident of Edmond, Duncan was educated in China, Europe, South Africa and the United States. Since his retirement, he has been involved with educational programs in Ukraine, England, Chile, South Korea, France and other countries around the world.

Still a world traveler, Duncan has just returned from China where he was appointed by the Xiamen University of Technology as a guest professor in the School of Digital Arts for a period of three years to help promote international exchanges and cooperation between XMUT and universities abroad.

UCO will celebrate the inauguration of President Betz with a week of activities April 16-20, expressing what the University of Central Oklahoma calls the ‘six tenets of transformative learning,’ Discipline Knowledge, Leadership, Problem Solving (Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities), Service Learning and Civic Engagement, Global and Cultural Competencies, and Health and Wellness.

“President Betz has created a new day for UCO, and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Duncan.
For more information about President Betz’s inauguration, visit and to learn more about Dr. Duncan visit

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