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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Inaugurations across the nation

A week of special events culminating in University President Steven Knapp’s inauguration did not draw large amounts of student participation, but other universities found ways to engage the student body in their event.

Indiana University held inauguration celebrations for Michael A. McRobbie, its new president, in mid-October in conjunction with the first annual Celebrate IU week, which was aimed towards students and culminated in the university’s homecoming.

“What Dr. McRobbie wanted was to focus not on him, but on the institution,” said Robin Gress, secretary of the IU Board of Trustees. “He was striving to keep balance and keep the university first and foremost.”

She said the Celebrate IU week featured popular events such as a bonfire and a beanbag toss competition.

“The IU institution is bigger than celebrating the president,” Gress said.

Planners for Knapp’s inauguration aimed to create activities that put the University in front of the new president. They also tried to elicit student participation in the inauguration through e-mails and advertisements and by holding events such as the Student Performance Revue, held on Thursday.

Nevertheless, few students attended Knapp’s inauguration ceremony, the pinnacle of the week’s festivities.

Like GW, Eastern Illinois University had low student participation in most of its inaugural week events, especially in the inauguration ceremony, EIU spokesperson Vicki Woodard said.

EIU, which has about 10,000 students, held its inauguration for new President William L. Perry earlier this month and about 500 people came for the inauguration ceremony. Those in attendance were primarily university faculty, administrators, members of the community and other dignitaries.

“(Perry’s inauguration) was smaller than some things we did in the past,” Woodard said. “But Dr. Perry wanted to keep it low-key.”

Although there was not a strong student presence at the EIU inauguration ceremony, Woodard said about 100 students came to “Pizza with the President,” an event held to engage students in Perry’s inauguration. The university also hosted motivational speaker John Cassis, a former professional baseball player, and held a “Forum on Academic Freedom,” which students attended, Woodard said.

In contrast to IU, EIU and GW, there was a “strong student presence” at the events for the October inauguration of Harvard President Drew Faust.

Although there were not any events geared specifically toward students, a significant number of students came to Faust’s inauguration ceremony, said Joshua Poupore, a university spokesperson.

He said 8,000 people attended the ceremony and many more people watched it on television.

In addition to the inauguration ceremony, Harvard had a musical performance, a dessert reception and a reading by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison to celebrate Faust’s inauguration.

“Each president put his or her individual mark on their installation,” Poupore said. “However, historically the ceremonies have varied from small to large celebrations.”

Gress said it is important that students participate in some aspect of their university’s inauguration.

“There are sometimes things of more relevance, but (a new president) does affect the learning and teaching environment,” she said. “Faculty and students have new leadership. It is not the sort of thing that happens often and it gives unusual insight into the university.”

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