The university mace is carried on ceremonial occasions at the head of the academic procession by the Grand Marshal, whose symbolic duty is the protection of the university, its people, and its processes.
The mace, a long club with a ball of iron, steel, or brass at one end, was used in warfare as late as the 16th century. The use of the mace as an instrument of ceremony, however, began about the year 1250 in England and France. The mace is still used widely today in university ceremonies like commencements and inaugurations.
The UNLV mace, cast by art professor emeritus Michael McCollum in 1970, was created using the lost wax process. Eric Gronborg's design for the cubical head of the mace included facets depicting the university seal, a rendering of the Statue of Liberty, a likeness of Renaissance scholar Leonardo da Vinci, and a shelf of books flanked by artists' brushes.
Read more about the history, design, and process of casting the mace in the UNLV Magazine article, "The Mace."