University President Amy Gutmann will be formally ushered into the Penn community today with the third inaugural ceremony since the University's inception.
A lineup of festivities designed to encompass themes of unity, democracy and education was originally scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., when Gutmann, flanked by trustees, faculty and higher education delegates, was supposed to lead a processional down Locust Walk. University officials called off the procession late yesterday because of inclement weather.
The inaugural activities will now extend from 10:30 a.m. until early evening, with a traditional program in Irvine Auditorium, a lunch on College Green and a five-panel symposium.
With musical, intellectual and culinary components, the official welcoming of the University's eighth president aims to instill a sense of institutional pride in the diverse range of Penn affiliates scheduled to attend.
"It's about what we have in common and what our hopes are for the future," Trustee Paul Williams said, citing the symbolic significance of the celebration.
The woman of the hour, who spent Wednesday night "headbanging" at The Roots concert held in her honor, claimed that she "hasn't had time to be nervous" for the approximately 20-minute speech she will be giving during the hour-and-a-half-long ceremony at Irvine.
"I think it does Penn proud, and I would love to do Penn proud," she said of the day's offerings.
Though only a select group of about 1,100 will be able to watch as Gutmann receives the keys to the University from the chairman of the Board of Trustees, James Riepe, the Irvine program will be broadcast live to various viewing locations on campus. It will also be broadcast online from the inauguration section of Penn's Web site.
"We're hoping that anybody who's interested in seeing it will find a way to see it," said Jake Marini, executive director for special events in the Office of the President. The live audience will comprise those who were supposed to be marching in the academic procession, a hand-selected group of about 60 student leaders and some prominent figures from the realms of politics and academia, such as Toni Morrison and Gov. Ed Rendell.
Though it is clear that the event will boast a decent amount of star power -- especially if one's definition of "star" encompasses the world of higher education -- University officials say that they are hoping to instill a sense of inclusiveness in the day's events.
"I've heard [Gutmann] say that at Princeton and other institutions, it's often hard for students to really feel that the inauguration has any impact or effect on them," University Secretary Leslie Kruhly said. "She wanted to bring it home, as it were, for the students."
A noon lunch, open to all members of the University community, will span College Green and Wynn Commons, catering to both those who could and could not attend the official ceremony.
Students are also encouraged to attend the symposium -- which Gutmann referred to as "the intellectual heart of the inauguration."
Five panels, running in overlapping hour-and-a-half time slots from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., will discuss issues revolving around the symposium theme -- "Rising to the Challenges of a Diverse Democracy in the 21st Century."
Made up of scholars and professionals who are considered pre-eminent in their fields, each panel is charged with examining the larger issue from different segmented angles.
"I think it's a great opportunity to look outside our day-to-day activities of teaching and research," said Fernando Pereira, chairman of the Computer and Information Science Department. Pereira will be participating in a panel charged with discussing global communication, led by NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and Penn Trustee Andrea Mitchell.Comments powered by Disqus
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