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A Symbol of the Institution: Mars Hill University’s Mace

In September 1986, Mars Hill College witnessed the installation of Dr. Donald D. Schmeltekopf as its new Academic Vice President. In honor of this important campus event, the institution was gifted an important item intended to be used in the academic procession from President Emeritus Dr. Fred Bentley and First Lady Doris Bentley; the mace of Mars Hill College (now University).

Intended to represent the authority of the institution, the mace of Mars Hill University was the idea of President Bentley who had just seen Lees-McRae College introduce their own mace the year prior. Designed by Mars Hill College Professor of Art Don Mahy and assisted by President Bentley and local artist Dirck Cruser, the mace was finished for the 1986-1987 academic school year.

Mahy’s design centers around a silver and walnut dome cap, which includes images of the institution’s academic seal. Directly beneath the dome is a cube made of walnut, which has the institutions founding year (1856), inscribed on one side and an intricate carving that depicts Paul the Apostle preaching on Mars Hill in Athens, the namesake of the institution. President Bentley produced these carvings.

On the other opposing sides of the walnut cube resides a silver denarius coin (Rome) and a silver cross (Christianity). Located under the coin is a silver plate commemorating the founding of the College in 1856 and of the University in 2013. Directly beneath the cube lies circular silver band engraved with the words Mars Hill University. The remainder of the mace’s staff consists of walnut and silver completed by a second silver band engraved with Mars Hill College and capped with a domed base.

Since its initial use at Dr. Schmeltekopf’s ceremony, the mace is present annually at convocation and commencement.

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President Emeritus Dr. Fred Bentley passes the mace to former Academic Vice President, Dr. Donald Schmeltekopf.