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Cordier Auditorium was full Friday — an abundant response to a man who has “poured his heart and soul into Manchester University for decades,” according to Board of Trustees Chair D. Randall Brown, who presented the Presidential Medallion to Dave McFadden.
McFadden was inaugurated Friday as the 15th president in the 125-year history of the University, and he spoke often during his address about abundance and gratitude.
“Going forward, we will be audacious in embracing opportunity,” McFadden said. “We aim to grow our total enrollment by as many as a thousand students by the end of this decade, grounding new programs in our mission and infusing them with our values.
“Why? Because the world needs more Manchester graduates. We will be a source of hope and optimism, of promise and possibility, of ability and conviction.”
The auditorium on the North Manchester campus, which seats 1,300, resounded with the anthem “Only Now,” commissioned by McFadden and composed by MU alumnus Shawn Kirchner. “Only Now” adapts excerpts from the Wendell Berry novel “Hannah Coulter”:
“The world is so full, like a pregnant woman carrying a child within her, carrying a child in one arm and leading another by the hand …. Every puddle in the lane is ringed by sipping butterflies that fly up in a flutter when you walk by.”
McFadden also spoke about responsibility, describing it as “stewardship of work that has been done in the past and optimism about the promise of the future. “
He thanked Jo Young Switzer and Bill Robinson, former Manchester presidents who returned Friday to the University to be honored for their years of service.
McFadden said we do well to “remember those who served Manchester well, who planted what we are reaping today.” This includes the nation’s first peace studies major and an environmental studies program “before either was cool.” He also cited the University’s vigorous study-abroad program and the student-initiated gender studies minor.
“They put in place programs and ideas and world-changing graduates,” he said.
He said that Manchester students get surprises when they travel abroad for the first time; when they become comfortable giving immunizations even though needles make them nervous; or when they become lifelong friends with a roommate they weren’t sure they could even live with at first.
“Our opportunity is to touch one life at a time,” he said, “And those lives, in turn, touch others, who then touch many more. “
In his case, the big surprise came when he met the love of his life, Renee, during first-year orientation. Their two children are the fourth generation in their family to graduate from the University.
“We have much to be grateful for from our past and a lot of work ahead,” he said. “But today, this day, let us accept our responsibilities, embrace our opportunities and open ourselves to surprise.”
November 7, 2014