What do the colors mean? Here's how the U of M uses them (from left): Copper: College of Design; Drab: Campus at Crookston; Black: Law School, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and various medical schools; Light blue: College of Education; Maize: College of Agriculture; Green: Program of Mortuary Science; Old Gold: Certificate Programs; Maroon and gold: Carlson School of Management, School of Nursing. And a plain gold tassel: the College of Biological Sciences.

Dave Denny, Star Tribune

Tassels: A matter of degrees

  • Article by: BILL WARD
  • Star Tribune
  • May 18, 2012 - 4:28 PM

For Brittany Schultz, last Sunday's graduation ceremony was not quite as special as it should have been. A little bland even.

The problem was not a boring speech or that long litany of names but something closer to her heart -- er, head.

"I actually was bummed when I found out that we were going to have white tassels," said Schultz, who earned a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota. "It's such a boring color. I would have liked to have had a maroon and gold tassel. Or even an all maroon or all gold -- something that made it a little more recognizable that my peers and I were U of M graduates."

Actually, it could have been worse. In the color- coded system set up by the American Council on Education (ACE), business and accounting grads are assigned "drab" tassels for their mortarboards. (Yes, drab is a color and a descriptor in this case, one and the same.)

While high schools tend to go the school-color route with their tassels, colleges and universities often follow the ACE recommendations. So the color of that flowing accessory, which might end up dangling from a rearview mirror or enshrined in a display with the degree, can vary mightily, from gray to peacock blue.

And Schultz actually should have her very own maroon-and-gold tassel. The university began handing those out to incoming freshmen in the mid-2000s. It's "a reminder," U President Eric Kaler told last fall's new arrivals, "that we're all planning to reconvene in May of 2015 at your graduation."

That's where they might have to settle for something a bit drabber in the way of tassels.

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