We run a fund-raising business hiring out academic dress. Proceeds provide funds for fellowships, awards, grants and special projects in the community.
Graduate Women Otago has managed the hire of academic dress for University of Otago graduation ceremonies since the 1930's. In 1933, the Branch made six hoods for hiring to graduands and by 1935, the Branch owned 19 hoods, 11 trenchers, and one gown. In 1939, we took over the hiring of the University’s trenchers and in 1954, took over all hiring arrangements from the University Council buying the University’s gowns – 150 of them.
Since then, the Branch's stock of academic dress has grown exponentially with more being added all the time. The Branch currently owns over 1,200 gowns, 3,600 hoods, 1,200 trenchers, plus 170 John Knox caps, and a dozen or so Tudor Bonnets.
Ahead of each graduation ceremony (in May, August, and December), the usually quiet Academic Dress Rooms become a hive of activity, hiring gowns, hoods, and caps to excited graduands. During this time, we ask members to volunteer to help with the collection and return of academic dress.