Precious Medal

Making Rollins’ presidential medallion

Former Rollins presidents Jack Critchfield, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rita Bornstein ’04H, and Lewis Duncan invest Grant Cornwell with the symbol of his new office—a sterling-silver medallion bearing the Rollins seal. (Photo by Scott Cook) Former Rollins presidents Jack Critchfield, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rita Bornstein ’04H, and Lewis Duncan invest Grant Cornwell with the symbol of his new office—a sterling-silver medallion bearing the Rollins seal. (Photo by Scott Cook)

This spring’s presidential inauguration was filled with significant moments. Perhaps the most special was when four past presidents—Jack Critchfield, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rita Bornstein ’04H, and Lewis Duncan—invested Grant Cornwell with the symbol of his new office—a sterling-silver medallion bearing the Rollins seal.

It was fitting that Bornstein, the College’s 13th president, was the one to place the medallion’s silver chain around Cornwell’s neck. After all, if not for Bornstein, the medallion might not exist.

Rita Bornstein ’04H commissioned the creation of the medallion for her inauguration in 1991. Rita Bornstein ’04H commissioned the creation of the medallion for her inauguration in 1991.

When she assumed the presidency in 1990, Bornstein was surprised to learn that the College had no medallion, which is traditionally worn by college presidents on ceremonial occasions as part of their regalia. With her inauguration approaching, Bornstein tasked Associate Art Professor Ron Larned with designing and casting a medallion that would be used to officially invest her and future Rollins presidents.

A sculptor who also taught jewelry design at Rollins, Larned was the ideal man for the job. Here, he takes us behind the scenes of his creation.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

Etched in History

The back of the medallion is inscribed with the names of the College’s 15 presidents and the years of their service, from Edward P. Hooker to Grant H. Cornwell.

Forged with Force

Since the design required such fine detail, Larned opted to use the Cornell Fine Arts Center’s broken arm centrifugal casting machine. As its name suggests, the machine uses centrifugal force to sling molten metal into the mold. “You get so much better metal density and fidelity,” Larned says, “because the hot metal is thrown into the cavity with such tremendous force.”

Ancient Inception

Chains of office like the Rollins medallion have their roots in the Middle Ages when they were worn as insignia of office or a mark of fealty.

Subtle Sculpture

The medallion’s face bears the College’s seal, which depicts the sunrise over the waters and carries the motto Fiat Lux. Larned began by carving the seal as 
a bas-relief, a sculpture in which the design is slightly raised from the background. He pulled a mold from that design, and then created a wax positive that was used to cast the medallion.