(WILKES-BARRE, PA. – Sept. 15, 2012) Wilkes University installed Patrick F. Leahy as its sixth president in a gala ceremony at the F. M. Kirby Center. The formal installation ceremony capped three days of activities and celebrations organized around the theme “Looking Back With Pride, Looking Forward With Confidence.”
Leahy delivered his installation address, which reflected the installation theme. Leahy commented on the proud history and traditions at Wilkes while outlining a vision for the future.
John R. Miller, chair of the Board of Trustees and a member of Wilkes Class of 1968, installed Leahy as president, presenting him with the charter, seal and presidential chain of office. He was assisted by Melanie Maslow Lumia, trustee and co-chair of the installation committee, and Virginia P. Sikes, trustee and chair of the presidential search committee that hired Leahy.
The keynote address was delivered by the Rev. Scott Pilarz, president of Marquette University. Leahy presented Pilarz with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
A procession of more than 200 people began the event. It included members of Wilkes’ Board of Trustees, faculty and 58 alumni representing University graduating classes from 1946 to the present. Alumni included Alberta Killian of Mountain Top, Pa., a 1946 graduate of Bucknell University Junior College, which was the forerunner of Wilkes University.
Delegates from 48 other colleges and universities also participated in the ceremony. Represented schools included Harvard, Columbia, Bucknell, East Stroudsburg and Duke universities, as well as representatives from colleges and universities in northeast Pennsylvania. In addition, formal greetings and congratulations were sent to the new president by nearly 100 other colleges and universities.
Wilkes University’s four living former presidents were present, including Francis J. Michelini, Robert S. Capin, Chrisopher N. Breiseth and Joseph E. “Tim” Gilmour.
Greetings were delivered by representatives of the University community and by local, regional and state officials. Virginia P. Sikes delivered greetings on behalf of the Board of Trustees. Kristofer R. Rivers, Student Government president, spoke on behalf of students, and Justin C. Matus, associate professor, business administration, and chair, Faculty Affairs Council, delivered greetings from faculty. Gretchen S. Yeninas represented members of the staff and Thomas M. Ralston, president of the Alumni Association, spoke on behalf of Wilkes alumni. Greetings were delivered by state Sen. John T. Yudichak (D-14th District) and Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas M. Leighton.
Wilkes faculty from the performing arts and English departments collaborated on original musical compositions in honor of Leahy’s installation as sixth president of the University.
“Fanfare and Fantasy on Wilkes, Our Alma Mater,” was composed by Philip Simon, associate professor in the Performing Arts Department. The composition is divided into four sections: Fanfare, Tradition (featuring alumni music majors), In Progress, and To Come, each suggesting the large time frames of the University's birth, development, growth and future. It will be performed by the Wilkes University Civic Band, a collaborative ensemble featuring University students and high school and adult community members.
“Noble Truths” is a new choral work. The text is a poem written for the occasion by Wilkes faculty members Lawrence Kuhar and Mischelle Anthony of the English Department. Steven Thomas of the Performing Arts Department set their words to music. The piece celebrates the beginning of a new era at Wilkes and highlights the enduring values that make the University an inspiring place.
The installation ceremony was followed by a reception for attendees. The ceremony capped a week of activities that included a community service project in the City of Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 8, the annual John Wilkes Society dinner on Sept. 13, and a Faculty Scholarship Showcase on Friday, Sept. 14. Students, faculty and staff joined Leahy and his family at an installation celebration in the Henry Student Center on the evening of Sept. 14.