Many of a graduating student’s accomplishments can be seen adorning their necks and hanging gracefully on their shoulders. With so many different cords and colors, it’s hard to pin down what each cord represents and what it says about the graduate wearing it. Representing achievements in a multitude of ways, the cords stem from a tradition beginning in the Roman Catholic Church to distinguish status among clergy. This became part of the graduation ceremony to distinguish different honors and achievements among graduates. Today, it can be hard to know the differences between the cords and the variety of colors and styles they come in, especially among different schools.
In the University of Alaska system, the graduation cords are not universal. Graduation cords go through an approval process before they are added to the existing list. Bridgett Dyson, special events manager for University Advancement, said the process a cord request must go through before it sees the graduate.
“The requests now must be reviewed by the Commencement Committee and forwarded to the Chancellor’s Cabinet for final approval,” Dyson said.
The process for approving cords and compiling an official list of their meanings is a rather new endeavor.
“Until recently, there was not a formal process for the approval of cords/sashes,” Dyson said.
UAA assistant registrar Lindsey Chadwell helped assemble a list of current approved cords and sashes.
“To my knowledge, the university doesn’t have a complete list of all cords students might wear during commencement,” Chadwell said.
Chadwell pointed toward University Advancement for the start of this developing list of approved Commencement cords.
Bridgett Dyson and University Advancement were able to provide an in-progress list of official cords and their corresponding colors.
Alpha Delta Nu (Nursing) – Gold Cords
Beta Gamma Sigma (Business school, Honor society) – Blue and Gold Cords
Engineering honors – Braided Green and Gold Cords
Humanities honors – White Cords
Kappa Delta Pi (Education) – Blue and Purple Cords
Leadership Honors – Red Cords
Legal Studies pro bono services honors – Purple Cords
Medical Lab Science – Green and Gold Cords
Music – Pink Cords
National Criminal Justice Honor Society – Gold Cords
Phi Alpha Theta (History) – Red Cords
Sigma Theta Tau (Nursing) – Purple and White Cords
University honors – Gold Cord
Veterans – Red, White, and Blue Cords
CBPP Leadership Fellows – Green, Gold, and Purple Cord
Updated as of Fall 2015:
Student Athletes – gold with Seawolf logo
AHAINA – purple ribbon with medal
CBPP Leadership Fellows – green, gold and purple
University Advancement is in the process of expanding this list to make it comprehensively include all cords that have been approved through the Chancellor. For more information regarding cords, contact UAA Advancement at 907-786-4847.