University gets ready for inauguration

Ally Taylor

The inauguration of the Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A. as the University’s 32nd president has been news on campus since last December, and the Inauguration Committee began planning for this week’s events in early January.

“By early February, Fr. Donohue and the committee had formed a vision of the various events that would be part of the Inauguration celebration,” Kathy Byrnes, vice president of student development and chair of the inauguration committee, said.

The inauguration ceremony and liturgy scheduled to take place tomorrow will be the highlight of the week’s festivities and the committee’s long months of planning.

The ceremony will feature remarks from presidents of prominent universities, including Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, Br. Michael McGinniss of LaSalle University and Richard Santagati of Merrimack College.

John Drosdick, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, will conduct the ceremonial installment.

Various members of the University’s community, including students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff will offer congratulations. Cardinal Justin Rigali is also scheduled to offer the opening blessing.

“Traditionally, a school invites the president or a delegate from other institutions of higher education to attend an inauguration,” Byrnes said.

Over 140 delegates from other academic establishments will participate in Donohue’s inauguration by processing into the Pavilion as a group at the beginning of the ceremony.

Donohue will also give his inauguration speech, which Byrnes said will focus on the words on the University seal: Veritas, Unitas, Caritas.

“Fr. Dobbin, our last president, was the first president at Villanova to host a formal inauguration ceremony,” Byrnes said. “Such inaugurations have been the trend for all colleges in the United States over the last 15-20 years.”

The inauguration committee invited all current members of the University community, alumni supporters who have given charitably to the University, delegates from other universities and members of Donohue’s family. The Committee also sent a general invitation to the 80,000 living alumni.

“Fr. Donohue wanted to be very inclusive,” Byrnes wrote.

Donohue will celebrate the inauguration liturgy earlier in the day in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church.

Due to the overwhelming interest to attend this event, seating availability in the church will be limited to those given seating cards, including prominent off-campus guests, alumni, student committee members and Donohue’s family and friends.

The liturgy will be simulcast in the Villanova Room and Cinema in Connelly Center for students and additional guests.

“The liturgy and inauguration will also be web cast live, so Villanovans near and far can watch from wherever they are,” Byrnes said.

The inauguration home page provides a link to the web case page.

Students are also invited to participate in the celebration that will take place tomorrow evening on Mendel Field, regardless of whether or not they attended the ceremony. All dining halls will be closed during this time to encourage attendance at the dinner.

Entrees will include prime rib and vegetarian options with a special inauguration cake for dessert.

The inauguration committee is composed of faculty and staff members, with subcommittees to cover each individual event. Byrnes said students played a significant role in planning last night’s student inaugural ball and Saturday’s community day of service.

“This is the first event of its kind on campus – a social event with dancing for all four classes,” Byrnes wrote of the ball. Over 1,300 students have registered for the Student Inaugural Ball and over 1,000 University members for the Community Day of Service.

Donohue played a significant role in planning the celebration’s events, particularly Thursday’s reception at the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Day of Service.

“Villanova was founded on the notion of helping others and reaching out to the marginalized, and he wanted his inauguration to be connected to that founding theme,” Byrnes wrote.

In addition, the committee is working with a photographer to release a special publication that will commemorate the inauguration.

It is set to feature photographs of the various inauguration events and quotations from Donohue’s speech and St. Augustine. There are no details yet, but the committee hopes to make it available for sale in the University Shop.

The committee estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 people to attend the ceremony in the Pavilion. Although they do not anticipate seating problems, Byrnes recommends arriving 15 minutes early.

The ceremony will be approximately an hour long, but Byrnes would not provide details.

“You will have to come see for yourself,” she said.