Juan Sánchez Muñoz

Dear University of California Merced Graduate: Congratulations upon your graduation from the University of California Merced.

Commencement is a tribute to you and your hard work, and also to all the many who traveled with you along the way and helped shoulder your burdens — family, friends, classmates, faculty and staff. You and your community should be proud of this great accomplishment. You are the reason for all we do at UC Merced — your success is our success.

“Graduation” comes to us from the Latin “gradus,” meaning “a step.” Your ceremony is a very important step, but it is only one of many that you will take as you climb ever higher, in education, career and life. I want to assure you that you are not alone on this journey. Just as we celebrate your graduation, we are all here to support you in your future endeavors — along with over 12,000 UC Merced alumni across California and the country.

We hope that your journey will frequently bring you back to Merced and your Alma Mater to share the successes you will undoubtedly create throughout your life. Fiat Lux, Juan Sánchez Muñoz Chancellor

traditions + symbols


The University of California has used two different seals over its lifetime. The present seal, which was authorized to be designed in 1903, was put into use in 1910. Designed by Tiffany and Company, the seal incorporates symbolic icons and phrases that represent the portrait of the image of the University.

The open book is symbolic of the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge; the letter “A” highlighted in the text of the book represents the beginning of wisdom. Above the book is a five-pointed star emanating rays of light, which also represents the discovery and sharing of knowledge. The English translation of the university motto, “Fiat Lux,” or “Let There be Light” is displayed upon a scroll, representing the coming of light, knowledge and wisdom into the world. The date upon the seal is the founding date of the University.


The Chancellor’s Medal is worn at ceremonial observances as a part of the chancellor’s regalia. At the center is the University of California seal. The back of the medal displays the names of the campus’s chancellors and year he or she was inaugurated.


The academic mace’s symbolism is derived from the mythological club of Hercules. During European medieval times, maces began to be used for civil purposes and were carried in processions of city mayors and of other dignitaries. Eventually the mace became a symbol also for academic institutions, an emblem of order and authority in the pageantry of ceremonial occasions. The mace stands for lawful power and regal authority, and was carried by Zeus, the Greek God of moral law and order.

Most academic maces take the same general shape. At the top is an ornament placed on a bulbous head; ring-shaped enlargements are found on the shaft; and the base is a round, foliated ornament.

The UC Merced mace was a gift from the Class of 2008, to represent the history, ideals and goals of the university. Local woodworker Pope Lawrence designed and created the ceremonial mace.

The UC Merced mace was turned and assembled from walnut wood. The mace head is from a tree grown in the Central Valley area near Le Grand and the wood for the shaft came from a tree grown in Petaluma. The mace has a Chancellor’s Medal inset in the head and a California Sesquicentennial “Diversity” coin in the base.


class of 2021