By Amy Gu
Southwestern alumni, students, faculty and community members celebrated the inauguration of Southwestern University’s 15th President, Dr. Edward B. Burger. The inauguration ceremony and presidential speech occurred on March 25 followed by a part on the Academic Mall.
The ceremony opened with the students ringing the Rutersville Bell, a traditional initiation of Southwestern gatherings such as the inaugural ceremony. A processional of faculty and student leaders was led by Sociology professor Dr. Edward Kain and Political Science professor Dr. Eric Selbin, carrying the University mace, a symbol of authority donated by previous president JNR Score’s wife and son and adorned with the university seal and names of all university regents and presidents.
“At first I wasn’t sure if was going to attend the inauguration, but then I thought to myself, ‘When would I ever get another change to go to something like this?” said junior Areli Guitierrez. “I enjoyed [President Burger's speech] – especially the jokes he peppered in and how he brought everything together to focus on what makes Southwestern great. The ceremony as a whole really gave me a sense of the tradition that Southwestern carries with it.”
After Southwestern members proceeded, the SU chorale welcomed the audience with a musical selection of ‘Jaunchzetdem Herren’ by Heinrich Schutz. Afterwards, representatives of the Higher Education Community, the United Methodist Church, the Georgetown Community, Southwestern alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and Board of Trustees presented individual greetings and welcomed the new president.
“I think [President Burger] is a very intelligent, inspiring, energetic president and I think that he’s going to take us to new heights in relation to academics, faculty development, and students being successful in their classes and on our campus,” said education professor Dr. Angela Moore.
After welcoming him, Burger confirmed his presidency during the investiture process, including the presentation of the charters that document the four root colleges and their unity, the university mace, a ring and medallion. Afterwards, Dr. Burger gave his inagurual speech, titled “Our Paideia Moment.”
In his speech, Burger led the audience through a Paideia moment in which an active learner locates connections between various disciplines.
Burger first introduced the math expression that appeared on various advertisements for the inauguration and explained the significance of numbers and symbols in the equation. The number 15 represented the number of presidents who have led Southwestern and 1840 signified the year of the university’s origin. The Greek symbols pi and e represented the unity of SU’s members and continual growth. Burger then introduce the Greek term yvwon, pronounced paw-thay-uh, meaning knowledge. This term stemmed the Paideia program at Southwestern as well as all interdisciplinary goals at Su and the origins of “Paideia connections.” Finally, he revealed the solution to the math problem as roughly 365, which represents Southwestern members’ constant, year-long acquisition of knowledge.
“It was really cool that President Burger incorporated different departments and different experiences at Southwestern so we can have collective Paideia moments and individual Paideia moments, which is especially interesting for those of us who aren’t in Paideia. The speech helped emphasize how Paideia is a cornerstone of our university,” sophomore Brooke Taylor said.
The ceremony closed with a communal singing of the Alma Mater and a recessional party on the Mall where the community enjoyed dinner provided by Austin-area food trucks, ambient music from the SU Jazz Band, and a surprise appearance by President Barcus.