The Gordon family and the University Mace

When Grey Gordon steps onto Franklin Field for Commencement on Monday, May 14, he will become one of more than a half dozen family members, stretched over four generations, who have graduated from Penn.

Gordon’s family connections to the University date back to the early 1900s, when his great-grandfather, William Murray Gordon, graduated from the Medical School

His grandfather, William Richard “Dick” Gordon, W’36, father, Robert “Duff” Gordon, W’77, uncle, Douglas Gordon, C’80, and late aunt, Anne Gordon Kessler, RN’75, are also Penn alumni.

Grey Gordon, who will be receiving his Ph.D. in economics, also earned his undergraduate degree from Penn in 2006. He met his wife, Joanne Yi, C’05, while on campus, too.

And if that wasn’t enough, Grey’s ties to the University also happen to extend to a treasured Penn symbol—the University Mace. His grandfather, Dick Gordon, donated the majestic, gold-washed silver and ebony mace to Penn in 1955 in honor of William Murray Gordon.

“I feel fortunate and proud,” says Grey of his family’s long history with Penn.

The 3-foot-4-inch long, four-pound Mace—the symbol of authority of the University—is carried by the Secretary of the University or another senior officer at Penn’s great public ceremonies, including Convocation and Commencement.

Dick Gordon was a Penn employee for more than 40 years, serving as assistant treasurer and treasurer of the University. Then he went on to serve as president of the Franklin Investment Company, which managed the University’s endowment in the 1970s and 1980s. 

“It’s an amazing foresight on my father’s part,” says Duff Gordon, Grey’s father. “He was looking at a way to dedicate something to his father, and he came up with this clever idea to get this mace made.”

Designed in the style of the maces of medieval knights, the University Mace is adorned with the seal and arms of University, the Penn and Benjamin Franklin coat of arms, a depiction of the Rittenhouse orrery, and a thistle symbolizing Penn’s early ties with the University of Scotland.

Grey Gordon had the privilege of posing for a photo showing him holding the Mace at his first graduation in 2006. After this year’s Commencement, Grey will be heading to Bloomington, Ind., to teach at Indiana University.

University Mace