New leadership takes the helm at Shepherd
Shepherd University students, staff and alumni gathered to witness the installation of Dr. Mary J. C. Hendrix as the 16th president of the university Friday afternoon.
According to Jim Staley, Shepherd University class of 1968, the master of ceremonies for the inauguration, Hendrix’s inauguration is particularly significant because she is the first Shepherd graduate in the university’s 145-year history to become the university’s president.
In her inaugural address, Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix said some students may face financial obstacles to higher education, but she said Shepherd University is dedicated to providing an affordable, quality education.
“Shepherd University gets 16 percent of its funding from the state, so public-private partnerships are the way to go forward. Generous donors support new scholarships and academic opportunities,” she said. “Collaborative partnerships lead to new training and employment opportunities for students.”
Hendrix said she wants to see Shepherd University regarded as a leader in techonological and intellectual innovation. She said an energy symposium held earlier Friday was a good example of science and technological innovation on campus.
“We at Shepherd University consider it a privilege to share knowledge with the next generation. Shepherd University gave me a wonderful academic foundation, and I used that to work in cancer research,” Hendrix said, adding that it was fitting to have her inauguration on the same day Shepherd students participated in Relay For Life, a fundraiser walk to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Prior to Hendrix’s inaugural address, there was an invocation by the reverend T. Mathew Rowgh of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Shepherdstown and the singing of the National Anthem, and several speakers from the offices of state politicians offered greeting and remarks to the audience. Mary Jo Brown, representing Sen. Joe Manchin, Congressman Alex Mooney, Chris Strovel representing Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, and Joy Lewis, representing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, spoke during the ceremony.
Jim Auxer, mayor of Shepherdstown and Shepherd University class of 1969 graduate, also welcomed those gathered for the inauguration ceremony to Shepherdstown.
“Today, we are experiencing history in the making: Dr. Mary J. C. Hendrix is the first alumna sworn in as the university’s president,” Auxer said. “We are proud to have one of our own become the president of our beloved university.”
Chris Colbert, a graduate of the Shepherd University class of 1995, offered a similar greeting to Hendrix.
“On behalf of the Alumni Association, we welcome you back home. Once a Ram, always a Ram,” Colbert said.
Dr. Paul L. Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Dr. Marcia Brand, chair of the Shepherd University Board of Governors, then placed a gold medallion engraved with the Shepherd University seal and the university’s motto around Hendrix’s neck, officially installing her as the university president.
Hill said many of the elements involved in a university presidential inauguration are symbolic, and he said the robes and sashes, as well as the medallion, all have meaning.
Following the inauguration ceremony, Hendrix lit the ceremonial torch to kick off Relay For Life outside the university’s Butcher Center.