University celebrates presidential inauguration

Anju George

Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. was installed officially as the 32nd president of Villanova University when he received the presidential medallion from president emeritus, Rev. Edmund Dobbin, O.S.A. last Friday.

The inaugural procession, lasting approximately 25 minutes, began with some of the 83,000 world-wide alumni members holding signs of the year they graduated, followed by delegates from Villanova and other colleges.

Among the people situated in the audience, the Naval ROTC program members were present as they celebrated with Donohue, their Unit’s Chaplain for the past 13 years.

Professor Crystal Luck, director of African studies, explained that the motto engraved on the University seal “Veritas, Unitas, Caritas” was the central theme of the inauguration events.

The archbishop of Philadelphia, His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, J.C.D., joined with the audience in prayer and then delivered a message from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Rigali’s speech proclaimed Donohue as a man who understands the importance of being a part of the archdiocese of Philadelphia and said Villanova will “continue to play a vital role in the catholic educational ministry of the archdiocese.”

Donohue began his inaugural address by thanking those who had been around him and supported him. Those included were Dobbin, his family and the Augustinian brothers.

Donohue then went on to reference the beginning of the book of Genesis, and asked Villanovans to look at their education through the same eyes as the second story of creation, which describes the Creator as a potter, who continually shapes the clay into life.

“With truth as the clay in our hands, we must mold it in order to “form the total person, intellectually, spiritually, culturally, socially, and physically,” he said.

Donohue’s goal of carrying out the “Veritas, Unitas, Caritas” motto was apparent during his inauguration, saying “every decision we make must be framed in these values.”

Donohue’s address touched on making Villanova more culturally aware. He focused on the image that has earned the university’s well-known name “VanillaNova.”

“We need to welcome people of different faiths, orientations and experiences,” he said.

He also laid out a vision for a performing arts center and a center for cultural exploration.

“We need to build, and I mean build, a center where culture is appreciated and explored,” he said.

In addition, Donohue also called for a refashioning of the library in order to augment the academic and intellectual standards for the University.

Coinciding with his emphasis on culture is Donohue’s focus on education with culture.

In his vision, residence halls should not only foster new friendships and growth, but should also merge with the learning environment of the classroom.

He said the community and classrooms must endorse discussion and a better understanding of the world, and that residence halls should be designed to bring people together and teach them to respect their neighbors no matter what their origin, class, orientation, sex, or color.

Donohue called for the University to help form “the total person” and called for a holistic approach to education, one that is multi-faceted and offers all perspectives.

“We will never achieve new levels of understanding if we are only with people who think act and believe what we do,” said Donohue.

Donohue also specified that the educational aspect of the University is paramount to its reputation as an Augustinian university.

“Education is the breath of life that enables us to discover our potential and move in new directions,” said Donohue.

Donohue’s inaugural address lasted approximately 22 minutes, and followed many pre-address activities.

Before the address, representatives of the students, faculty, parents and alumni were invited up to the stage to present Donohue with gifts.

Lauren McLeod, the student chairperson for the New Student Orientation, saw her parents, Sharon and Paul, make a presentation to Donohue on behalf of all the students’ parents.

The McLeod parents spoke about how comforting it is to know that a man like Donohue is the man that is entrusted with taking care of and guiding Lauren through her four years. Sharon McLeod recalls Donohue saying “your daughter is smiling a lot now days, and he is a nice young man.”

“He always knows what’s going on in my life [even without me telling him],” Lauren said. “If he meets you once, he’ll remember your name the next time.”

As a present, the McLeods offered Donohue Saint Augustine’s “The Trinity” which they hope will remind him of the relationship between the parent, child and spirit of the university.

Joe Bob Gonzalez and Jerica Younken represented the student body as they offered “The Confessions” by St. Augustine so that Donohue would not forget “some of the things college students experience.”

He also received Augustine’s “City of God” from Andrea and John O’Brien, alumni who were invited to make a presentation to the new president.

Notable speakers were also invited to offer congratulatory comments to Donohue,the most notable of which was Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania.

In her congratulatory note, Gutmann reminisced about memories of Donohue’s production of “Chicago” ,which won three Barrymore awards.

“I know a showstopper when I see one and I can’t wait to see you razzle dazzle us all,” she said.