More than 1,200 people gathered at the Whittemore Center on Nov. 22 as Ann Weaver Hart was officially inaugurated as the 18th president of UNH.
As a new leader for a new century, Hart remarked, "We stand on the brink of what the late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould might have called 'punctuated equilibrium,' where the ingredients for change have been quietly accumulating and a major and dramatic leap is now possible. ... We have the vision to forge a new identity that merges achievement as a research university with a distinctive undergraduate education. ... This education will build on the power of a research university and create in our graduates a way of thinking and being that is grounded in inquiry and creativity."
To make that distinctive process of discovery the signature of an undergraduate education, "the university must be an open community, free of prejudice. We must recognize and uphold in our own time and circumstances a university that celebrates the right to inquire, to speak and to be within very broad parameters."
While maintaining UNH's commitment to teaching and research, the "university must be deeply engaged in service, because the knowledge we discover and the actions we take eventually become public property, creating a public good," Hart said. UNH must continue to provide leadership to the state, not only through teaching and scholarhip, but through "service to and engagement in public and private life."
Noting that the university must continue to build on a firm foundation of public and private support, the new president said: "To advance the university, to support, refine and perfect our distinction, we must again be willing to plan an aggressive and energetic private fund-raising effort that proudly celebrates the university's achievements and potential."
At the conclusion of her remarks, Hart told those assembled, "I pledge that I will work with you to conduct the sharp analyses and make the difficult decisions to achieve these goals. I pledge to work with you to advance beyond our new tradition as the best public university in New England."
The official installation was the culmination of two days of inauguration events. Hart met on Nov. 21 with students and then participated in an academic forum featuring C. Peter Magrath '55 as the keynote speaker. Magrath, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, discussed the role that universities must play in the future of the state and country.
Other alumni participating in the inauguration included musician Craig Levesque '98, '00G, who composed a new work, "New Hampshire Fanfare," for the installation ceremony, and John Lynch '74, chair of the University System Board of Trustees. Lynch and system chancellor Stephen Reno presented Hart with the medallion that symbolizes her new office. ~
Editor's Note: For the complete text of President Hart's speech and additional coverage of the inauguration, please visit http://www.unh.edu/president/annweaverhart/news/speeches/inauguration.html.
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