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The installation of a university president signifies the scholarly community’s reverence for the past and excitement for the future. The inauguration symbolizes the public approval of a responsive and responsible leader to carry on the pursuit of academic excellence. American institutions of higher learning are key drivers for economic development in the community, both for the members of the workforce they train as well as the prosperity of the regions they serve. Universities promote knowledge, research, new ideas, creativity and cutting-edge technologies. Appropriately, the inauguration of a university president commemorates achievement and celebrates future accomplishment.

Decorum characterizes the long history of academic inaugurations, although the elaborate ceremony of European coronations has taken on a Puritan simplicity in America. Since its origin, Harvard University has formally inaugurated its presidents; for example, on July 7, 1725, Commencement Day, President Benjamin Wadsworth passed in procession from the college to the meetinghouse. The Bachelor of Art walked first, two in a rank, followed by the masters. (Incidentally, no one wore a cap). The trustees comprising the Corporation of Harvard College came behind Mr. Wadsworth; behind the trustees were Tutors, two in a rank; the colony’s Honorable Lieutenant-Governor and Council followed. Mr. Wadsworth received the keys, seal and records of the college, replied in English to his investiture and gave from the pulpit an oration in Latin.