Credit: Carlos Barron

Ronald L. Swain

Director of Transformative Missions
First United Methodist Church, Georgetown

Gracious and Loving God, we give you thanks and praise for this occasion – the inauguration of Laura Skandera Trombley as the first woman president of Southwestern University, the first institution of higher learning in the State of Texas.

Today, we join with the University’s Trustees, faculty, students, staff, administrators, alumni and friends to celebrate Laura’s installation. Today, the Trustees pass on to her the traditional symbols of presidential leadership as she enters the ranks of this high and noble calling, joining her predecessor presidents.  Guide her, protect her, give her insight, give her courage, give her a mind of wisdom and a heart of compassion.

O, Great Source of Faith and Learning, today we gather to affirm the University’s Core Purpose, “Fostering a liberal arts community whose values and actions encourage contributions toward the well-being of humanity.” 

Today, we affirm the University’s Core Values:

  • Cultivating academic excellence
  • Promoting lifelong learning and a passion for intellectual and personal growth
  • Fostering diverse perspectives
  • Being true to oneself and others.
  • Respecting the worth and dignity of persons
  • Encouraging activism in the pursuit of justice and the common good.

Today, we stand with Laura as she embraces and embodies the co-mingling of knowledge and vital piety and envisions the future for this great University. It will be a place that offers “an unparalleled, holistic liberal arts education, while embracing and valuing all community members.”  She asserts, “This inauguration is about identity and resiliency and continuing our mission and work to ensure that every voice will be heard, valued, and included. SU will always be a place of becoming and, as a place of education and inspiration, we celebrate the whole person, who they are and who they will become with acceptance and validation.” While, she is honored to be the “first” woman to provide presidential leadership, it is our collective responsibility to assist in achieving this vision for Southwestern.

For over 180 years, Southwestern University has stood as a beacon of light and hope for her students.  And, not for her students only, but also for the citizens of Georgetown.  So today, again, we affirm this mutually beneficial relationship between town and college.

Throughout its history, Southwestern Faculty have impacted not only the students within their respective academic disciplines, but they have also impacted the community around them.  O God, we pray that the University will continue its strong leadership and community engagement, so that in this age of information technology and social media, Southwestern will maintain its focus on seeking justice for ALL humanity.

O Divine Being, Holy One – open us all to your creative possibilities for a world of your imagination described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the “Beloved Community,” a world house, in which all your beloved children must learn to live together in peace.

On this Day, I am deeply aware of the limitations of my thoughts and my words. So, I simply pray the prayer that your Loving Son taught us, when He said to say, “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is heaven.  Give us this day, our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.