President Linwood H. Rose will wear James Madison University’s chain of office and university medallion during the commencement ceremony. The chain of office refers to the authority granted to the president by the JMU Board of Visitors and the Commonwealth of Virginia to confer degrees and lead the university. The medallion is symbolic of the office of president of the university.
The chain and medallion were created in 1999 by Ronald J. Wyancko, retired professor of art and art history. He also created the university mace more than 20 years ago. Creation of the institutional chain and medallion were made possible through a gift from the JMU Parents Council.
The chain of office was created from approximately seven troy ounces of sterling silver and two gems - a golden citrine and a purple amethyst, reflecting JMU’s school colors.
To form the chain, Wyancko cut, shaped and polished rectangular pieces of sterling silver sheet metal and connected them with handcrafted sterling silver chain links. The 47 links in the chain are graduated in size, growing larger as they approach the university medallion. The silver pieces of the chain are domed and polished to better reflect the light.
Two circular sterling sliver medallions are incorporated into the chain. These medallions are each slightly less than an inch and a half in diameter. One medallion is textured like bluestone to symbolize the older buildings on JMU’s campus. The other medallion features a brick texture to reflect the university’s newer buildings. The golden citrine is set into the center of the medallion with the bluestone texture, and the purple amethyst is set into the medallion with the brick texture.
The university medallion that hangs from the chain is a little more than three inches in diameter. It features the seal of James Madison University, the university’s name and the date of its founding, 1908. The design for the JMU seal is based on the coat of arms of the Madison family and contains the words "Knowledge is Liberty," which are based on quotations from James Madison.
Professor Wyancko created the university medallion and the smaller medallions on the chain of office by using the lost wax process. The finely detailed medallions were carved from a hard wax. Each of the carved wax pieces was placed into its own steel canister and covered with plaster-like investment to make a mold of the wax medallion. When the investment hardened, it was heated in a kiln and the wax was melted out, leaving a cavity for the molten silver. Professor Wyancko then used centrifugal force to pour the molten silver into the mold. When the silver hardened, he chipped away the investment, leaving the sterling silver medallions. The university medallion and the two smaller medallions were all treated with a chemical to darken the recessed parts of the medallions, bringing out the three-dimensional quality of the design. The entire chain was then refined, polished and assembled.
When not in use, the chain of office and university medallion are kept on display in a glass case near the entrance to JMU’s Carrier Library in the same area as the university’s mace.