The focal point of Emory’s Inauguration Celebration is,
naturally, the Inauguration Ceremony itself, to be held at 2:30
p.m., April 2, on the Quadrangle. And the elements of the two-hour
event are rife with symbolism—some new, some old; some unique
to Emory, others steeped in higher education tradition dating back
centuries. What are these elements, and what do they mean?
• Procession of delegates. Part of the opening processional
will be an ordered seating of delegates to Emory’s Inauguration.
It is tradition in higher education for universities to invite representatives
from four-year colleges and universities and learned societies to
presidential inaugurations, according to University Secretary Gary
Hauk, who said some 4,500 delegates have been invited to President
Jim Wagner’s installation (about 350 attended former President
Bill Chace’s inauguration in 1995). Procession of delegates
begins with the delegate from the oldest school represented (often
Oxford University) and continuing through to the newest institutions,
some founded as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.
• Greetings. More and more, Hauk said, it is standard for universities
to invite greetings not only from student, faculty and staff representatives
but local elected officials. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Georgia Congresswoman
Denise Majette, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin—and former President
of the United States Jimmy Carter—all will deliver remarks
of greeting on April 2.
• Guest address. This speaker, often chosen by the individual
being inaugurated, serves to “challenge” the new president
and put his or her tasks into a contemporary context. For former
President James Laney’s inauguration in 1977, Harvard president
emeritus Nathan Pusey spoke. Wagner selected Frank Rhodes, former
president of Cornell University, whom Wagner considers a mentor and
who consulted on the search that brought Wagner to Emory.
• Commissioning of works of art. Emory has commissioned several
pieces for Wagner’s inauguration, including new arrangements
of musical pieces by music Professors John Lennon and Steve Everett,
a new piece by Lennon, a poem by retired medical Professor John Stone,
and a silk batik of Lullwater Preserve by artist Mary Edna Fraser.
• Investiture. The investiture is the ceremonial awarding of
office. Emory trustees will present Wagner with the original 1836
charter of Emory College; a sprig of holly cut from a tree descended
from the holly that, legend has it, shaded Methodist founder John
Wesley as he preached on Georgia’s St. Simons Island in the
mid-1700s; keys to the University, symbolic of unlocking the doors
to truth and knowledge; and the official badge of office, which will
be draped over Wagner’s neck by Board of Trustees Chair Ben
• Inaugural address. Finally, it is Wagner’s turn to speak.
The president’s address, expected to last about 10 minutes,
will be printed in its entirety in a special issue of Emory Report to be published on Wednesday, April 7.
• Blessings. Campus ministers and students will bless the proceedings
and attendees with words in the Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu,
Jewish and Bahaí-í traditions.