Originally a weapon of offense used in medieval warfare by a king or a noble, the mace has been refined to a symbolic device used on ceremonial occasions.

The mace as an academic symbol dates to 16th-century England, when Queen Elizabeth I presented a replica of her own royal mace to the University of Oxford. She ordered that it be used in all ceremonies to represent the royal presence and the authority given to the university to grant degrees under the royal insignia. King Charles I made a similar gift to Cambridge University in 1625.

Robert E. Burns, president of University of the Pacific from 1946 to 1971, asked Stuart Devlin, an internationally renowned London silver designer, to create the Pacific mace. It was commissioned in recognition of the University's transition from a college to a university.  Several colleges and professional schools at Pacific were modeled after Oxford and Cambridge.

The university mace was first used at a Founder's Day Ceremony on March 6, 1966.  It is constructed entirely of silver with a gold plated seal of the University in its head. The mace is approximately four feet long and weighs 15 pounds. It was a gift from Mrs. Winifred Olson Raney, a former regent of the University. The mace is displayed at all official University functions and generally is carried by the chair of the Academic Council at Convocation and Commencement ceremonies.