Richard Rozek retires as university marshal following 2016 convocation ceremony

Richard Rozek retires as university marshal following 2016 convocation ceremony
Richard Rozek prepares to lead out the academic leaders as university marshal for the final time at the Fall 2016 convocation ceremony at Oakland University.

Longtime Health Sciences professor retiring from OU on Sept. 5 and passing on tradition


Though those in attendance may not have realized it, this year’s convocation ceremony was much different than most because it signified a historic moment, the ‘passing of the mace.’

Until this year, the mace has only been carried by two people. Next year, there will be a third. The mace was first presented during the September 1994 commencement ceremony and was carried by David Bricker, then the university marshal and philosophy professor.

Retiring professor Richard Rozek, Ph.D., has been teaching in Health Sciences at OU since 1981 and has acted as university marshal since taking on the role following Bricker in 1995.

“It all began when I received a call from (then) President Russi asking if I would like to be university marshal,” Rozek recalled. “I accepted and then he came over to the School of Health Sciences to shake my hand and congratulate me.”

In fact, Rozek’s history with the marshal mace goes back to the very beginning. He was a member of the committee put together by then President Packer who designed and developed the mace, right down to its length, design and logo.

Summarizing his run as marshal, Rozek said, “I want to thank Oakland University for this opportunity they have given me over the past 21 years. It has truly been a very satisfying honor which I will miss but my knees will not.”

Rozek’s comment references the fact that he had double knee replacement surgery four years ago right after fall commencement in December and rehabbed in time to resume his marshal duties by the spring commencement held that following April.

Considered a symbol of Oakland University itself, this scepter-like mace is carried by an appointed university marshal during all commencements, convocations and inaugurations. It’s meant to instill a sense of pride in the university and its ceremonies and is “one of the oldest traditions in academe,” according to a September 1994 OU News article introducing the mace.

Rozek was honored at this year’s convocation ceremony with a plaque to honor his many years of service in the position.