features

An Inside Look at the Ceremony of Presidential Installation

Caroline Muniz ’23

Features Editor

October 22, 2021 marked a historic day for the Holy Cross community as Vincent D. Rougeau was officially inaugurated as the 33rd President of the College of the Holy Cross. He is the first lay and the first black president in the College’s history. Alumni, faculty, students and other fellow crusaders came together for the Ceremony of Presidential Installation in celebration of Rougeau. 

The ceremony started when Provost and Dean of the College Margaret Freije began the event as the master of the ceremonies. The procession was led by Patricia Ring who was also the bearer of the college mace, which would later be handed to Rougeau. 

After a warm welcome from Richard Patterson ‘80, chair of the Board of Trustees, Rougeau received greetings from many important people from outside of the Holy Cross gates. Mayor Joseph Petty of Worcester began the greetings on behalf of all of the people of the city. President Luis Pedraja of Quinsigamond Community College finished his speech by saying, “The future is bright because you are in it.” Rev. Joseph O’Keefe also admired his dear friend and ended his speech with a hug. 

The ceremonies continued with more greetings from members within the Holy Cross community. Stephanie Chaudoir, professor of psychology, welcomed President Rougeau on behalf of the faculty and the people that make our school what it is. 

A video presentation followed that showed the excitement among the students of Holy Cross to have a leader who has such a great presence on campus and is so open to hearing their voices. SGA co-presidents Connor McNerney ‘22 and Margaret Ober ‘22 further expressed the students’ excitement through their own speeches. 

Photo Courtesy of the Holy Cross Inauguration Website

The Jesuits expressed their appreciation for Rougeau through a greeting given by Rev. James Stormes, who said that Rougeau is the embodiment of Christian leadership. The employees were also represented as Armstrong Lidonde told his story. He felt blessed that him and his son, a current Holy Cross student, were able to see such a historic day take place. Lastly, Alumna Laura Cutone Godwin ‘96, president of the Alumni Association, described how under the leadership of Rougeau, members of the community are treated with “fairness, respect, and dignity.”

The celebration of Rougeau continued with the reading of a poem entitled “My Mother’s Pears,” written by Stanley Kunitz and read aloud by Susan Sweeney, professor of English. This poem reflected the power of deep roots and the importance of generosity. 

The inaugural address was given by Cutberto Garza, professor Emeritus at Cornell University and this was followed by the inauguration of the president, which was performed by Patterson. 

Rougeau’s speech, addressing many different aspects of Holy Cross as well as his own personal experiences, was truly inspiring. He discussed his identity as a black man as well as someone of Catholic faith and how his faith got him through many racial injustices while abroad in France. He truly wants people of all backgrounds to have as many opportunities as possible. He is proud to be a part of a resilient community like Holy Cross. He also gave thanks to his wife, children, father, step-mother, the faculty, the alumni, and the students. He truly believes in this community and that we are capable of great things.

“The cure for what ails humanity lies within us” said Rougeau. 

The benediction was given by Rev. Robert McManus, the bishop of Worcester who prayed for Rougeau. The ceremonies were then concluded with the alma mater.  

There were also many different musical performances throughout the ceremony such as the Holy Cross Wind Ensemble, the Holy Cross Chamber Singers and the Holy Cross Jazz Ensemble.       

President Rougeau received the proper Holy Cross welcome and it was truly an excellent look into what the future holds under his leadership.                                              

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