By Susannah Waite, News Editor
President Robert Henry’s birthday April 4 won’t only be celebrated by blowing out candles. Henry also will mark his inauguration next week with a series of campuswide events celebrating OCU.
Though Henry began his presidency last summer, the inaugural ceremony will be April 6 in Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center. Classes will be canceled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day so students, faculty and staff can attend.
“This is a matter of tradition,” Henry said. “President Tom McDaniel told me I needed to have an inauguration but to wait several months.
“I guess it was to see if I survived until April.”
After reviewing 43 submitted applications, the presidential search committee hired Henry in December 2009 to assume the role as OCU’s 17th president. He previously served as a chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit.
It is customary for the university to have inaugurations in the spring, Henry said.
“I think we can get more people to come now and get more of our friends interested in the inauguration,” he said.
Distinguished guests, alumni, friends, and family of Henry have received invitations to the event. Henry said he looks forward to showing them what is going on around campus.
“It also takes several months to plan and putting on an inauguration is a lot of work,” he said.
While the inauguration is centered on the president, there are many other events throughout the week that involve the entire school, Henry said.
“The whole thing really isn’t about me,” he said. “It uses me to celebrate OCU.”
A Sunday worship service will include the gospel choir singing, Henry said.
“On Monday, we will have the complete works of Shakespeare abridged performed by the faculty,” he said. “It’s really a hysterically funny play and it is brilliantly written.”
There will be a moveable feast on Tuesday night, Henry said.
“This celebrates as much of the university as we could possibly expose people to,” he said.
The whole campus will be involved in the event—from student speakers to wrestlers, Henry said.
“This is a chance for me to promote our students and show people what remarkable students we have,” he said.
Alex Smith, instrumental performance freshman, said he looks forward to the event on Tuesday.
“I will be performing with the orchestra,” he said.
The theme for the inauguration, “Make Our Garden Grow,” was inspired by a piece of music composed by Leonard Bernstein.
Henry originally heard the song performed by the OCU choir at the Wanda L. Bass School of Music dedication. He said he is most excited for the performance to serve as a catalyst of the celebration.
“The song suggests the theme that we love this place and it’s a beautiful place and we all want to work together to make it a great place,” he said.
The inauguration could be helpful to Henry’s presidency, said Lauren Kolker, biomedical science junior.
“I think the inauguration will make him more visible to students if they attend,” she said.