Why Hold an Inauguration?

The arrival of a new president is a landmark in an institution's history and will have an impact on the institutional community for years to come. According to Joy Winkie Viola in her book Presidential Inaugurations, colleges and universities hold inaugurations for their new presidents for many important reasons:

  • Inaugurations celebrate an institution's history and reaffirm its mission.
  • Inaugurations provide an environment for the celebration of the tradition of learning.
  • Inaugurations provide an opportunity to showcase the importance of the institution to its community -- in all the various ways an institution's leaders may choose to define the term "community."
  • Inaugurations offer an opportunity for reaching out to the entire community.
  • Inaugurations foster the coming together of family, the healing of old wounds, the renewal of ties that bind.
  • Inaugurations represent new beginnings. They permit fresh starts when old paths have gone awry.
  • Inaugurations bring to campus academic, government, and professional leaders whose visits are beneficial to the institution.
  • Inaugurations enable new presidents to publicly establish new institutional goals and to set forth their institutional visions and priorities for the benefit of the campus and regional communities.

Why Hold the Inauguration in April?

There is no set rule about the timing of an inauguration; any time within the president's first year is acceptable. Most inaugurations are held either in the spring or fall, enabling the largest number of campus community members -- and others external to the college -- to participate. Date selection, especially in Ithaca, is coordinated so as not to conflict with other major campus and community events.

Perhaps even more important is the fact that, in the inaugural address, the new president sets forth his or her institutional vision and priorities for the institution. For President Thomas R. Rochon, holding his inauguration in April allowed him to develop and implement a campuswide strategic visioning process that will inform plans for his presidential tenure and Ithaca College.