October, 2010Dennis A. Ahlburg was inaugurated today as the 18th president of Trinity University with students, faculty, staff, alumni, benefactors, and former colleagues taking part in an investiture ceremony in Laurie Auditorium. Ahlburg pledged to integrate the arts, humanities, sciences, and business practices into new ways of defining a liberal arts education in the 21st century .
“For the unique challenges of this century, we need to develop new ways of thinking that will prepare our students to leave Trinity as informed citizens who are confident in their abilities to confront today’s vexing social problems,” Ahlburg said.
The festive installation ceremony began with a colorful procession of faculty, trustees, administrators, and delegates representing some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities in full academic regalia.
The rich history of academia was the order of the day, with delegates lining up in order from the oldest institution of higher education to the newest. First in the procession were representatives of Cambridge University, which was founded in 1209 – along with those from Harvard, Princeton, the University of Alberta in Canada, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and dozens of regional schools.
During the investiture, Ahlburg accepted from Board of Trustees Chairman Walter Huntley ’71, ’73 a presidential medallion bearing the names and dates of office of each Trinity president since the school was founded in 1869. The medallion attests to the continuity of educational services provided by the University to young people for the last 141 years.
Huntley, an Atlanta businessman and Trinity graduate, noted that Ahlburg has “the great privilege and responsibility of leading Trinity University” and will advance “this great institution to the front ranks of America’s finest colleges and universities in the 21st century.”
Diane Graves – who is a professor, University Librarian, and chair of the Trinity Faculty Senate – presented Ahlburg with a mace that symbolizes the authority and responsibility of serving as president. Additionally, the mace signifies the covenant between Ahlburg and the Trinity faculty.
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro brought greetings, as did Trinity faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
In the keynote address, Roger Ainsworth, professor of engineering science at the University of Oxford, England, and Master of St. Catherine’s College, told students not to hesitate to show enthusiasm about their passions. “You have only one chance to play your cards so make the most of it,” he said. “It is entirely natural and necessary to want to be enthusiastic about your work in order to be successful in your chosen career.”
Ainsworth added that professors play a vital role in helping students learn how to exhibit their intellectual excitement. “They’ll be trying to set you on fire, spark you up, so that you can shine in your best light and use your communication skills to the best effect. (The) University is not the place to be shy and retiring,” Ainsworth said.
The inauguration provided an opportunity for Trinity to commemorate its achievements over the course of its history. “It’s a celebration of the school, of the enthusiasm,” Ahlburg said. “I think we often take insufficient time to celebrate the accomplishments of a great set of people who have built this great university.”
Ahlburg, an internationally respected economist, is bringing fresh vision and energy to Trinity, where he is focused on educating students for the increasingly connected world, and launching work on a strategic plan to guide curricular and programmatic elements of the University during the next decade.
A native of Australia, Ahlburg took office January 2010 following a national search. An economist and authority on population impact on economic development and higher education, he has brought to Trinity a distinguished record of research and teaching and an impressive career as a transformational academic administrator.
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