About Convocation

The Convocation of the American College of Physicians is an annual ceremony whereby the College recognizes and applauds its new Fellowship recipients and the recipients of various honors. It is a ceremony of tradition, transition, renewal, and celebration.

The first American College of Physicians Convocation was held in 1916, the year after the College’s founding. Early Convocations were devoted largely to the induction of new FACPs. In 1924, the first recipient of Mastership was elected; henceforth, Convocation has recognized new Mastership recipients as well as new Fellowship recipients. In 1929, the John Phillips Memorial Award was established, and all subsequent Convocations have included recognition of awards as well as Masterships. From a single award in 1929, the roster of awards has grown to 23. The first honorary fellowship was bestowed in 1950, and since that time, these honorees have been included in Convocation.

The heavy, ornamental Mace carried by the Chair-elect of the Board of Regents was made for the College in London and contains many design elements symbolic of medicine. The mace was originally a symbol of power dating back to ancient Egypt and was in use as a weapon up through the Crusades. Later, the mace became a symbol of authority in government and, in the case of universities and learned societies, of leadership, scholarship, and dignity. The Caduceus carried by the College’s President is descended from the symbolic staff carried by a herald in ancient Greece, which now symbolizes the physician’s calling. It is a slender silver rod or scepter, an exact replica of the caduceus carried by the President of the Royal College of Physicians in London since its founding in the sixteenth century.

In its annual Convocation, the College recognizes and embodies these traditions of medicine and scholarship. Through this ceremony, the College marks the transition and transformation experienced by new Fellowship recipients, Honorary Fellowship recipients, Mastership recipients, and awardees. Additionally, Convocation thereby marks a renewal of the College’s mission to promote excellence in medicine. Most of all, Convocation is a time for the entire membership body to celebrate and commemorate the accomplishments of our many, many honorees and their contributions to the art and science of medicine.