The Seton Hall community welcomed its 21st President Dr. Joseph E. Nyre on Nov. 15 in the Walsh Gymnasium. Administration, students, local leaders and clerical leaders were among those intendence to celebrate the installation of Nyre, where he said he will approach the position “with a sense of honor, excitement and profound humility.”
The Investiture began with Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Karen Boroff delivering the event’s introductory remarks. Following Boroff’s introduction, the Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Susan Nolan, introduced the singing of the national anthem which was led by the University’s Chamber Choir.
Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Colin Kay led the event’s invocation. He recited Psalm 24 and proclaimed a prayer “open the gates of our hearts to all that is good to all that is beautiful to all that is true.”
Student Government Association (SGA) President Rishi Shah welcomed the audience to the Investiture and discussed his optimism for the University’s future. Shah said that since he met Nyre, “his willingness to collaborate, his level of engagement with the community and the honesty of his vision were evident from the beginning.”
In an interview with The Setonian, Shah said that he hopes to meet regularly with Nyre and collaborate further this coming semester. Also, Shah said he wants to continue championing for a student seat or seats on the Board of Regents.
“We also want to continue our conversation around affordability and improving the student experience,” Shah said.
Nyre’s daughter, Hadley Nyre, gave a speech about her father and described how he is a man of “great integrity,” but cautioned the community to be prepared to hear some of the “same cheesy phrases.” Moreover, she said her family received a warm and genial welcome from the community.
“If he is half as good a president as he is a father, then Seton Hall’s best days have just begun,” Nyre said.
After Nyre’s speech, Cardinal Joseph Tobin and Chair of Board of Regents Patrick Murray presented President Nyre with the Presidential chain and medallion, the symbol of the office of the president.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum presented Nyre with the Charter of Seton Hall University, granted by the New Jersey Assembly on March 8, 1861. Nolan said the charter grants the University the power to confer academic degrees.
Murray presented Nyre with the resolution of the Board of Regents naming Nyre the President of the University along with the seal of the University, which signifies the executive authority of the President.
Cardinal Tobin presented Nyre with the Sacred Scriptures which signify the importance of the University’s Catholic mission and identity.
Shah presented the Student constitution and the undergraduate catalogue and President of Student Bar Association Melissa Walker presented the constitution and bylaws of the association. Additional representatives from other colleges presented tokens which symbolized central elements of their schools.
After the numerous presentations, Murray provided an introductory speech about Nyre. Due to the dedication of the presidential search committee and divine providence, Murray said, “today, the fruits of that labor are realized.”
“He brings to Seton Hall impeccable credentials as an accomplished scholar and academic leader. He possessed a deep understanding of the ideals of Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley’s University, to create a home for the mind, heart and spirit,” Murray said.
According to Murray, Nyre is a veteran of the United States Navy and a first-generation college graduate. He has obtained three advanced degrees and he has completed pre and post-doctoral studies at the University of Missouri, University of Kansas and the Harvard Medical School. He has served as a psychology professor and has been recognized nationally in psychology. Moreover, he has helped build a system of care in Illinois that serves more than 30,000 people each year.
Nyre emphasized the tremendous fortune it is to belong to an academic community “with the heart of a family, where Catholic values welcome people from all backgrounds as God’s children and where leadership is taught as an active service, not a function of power.”
Nyre said that Catholic universities serve an instrumental role in advancing the cause of the human family and engaging in present social challenges.
After Nyre’s speech, Tobin delivered an address welcoming the University’s new president. In his address, Tobin said Catholic universities serve two main functions. First, he said the institution ought to serve as a “lighthouse” illuminating the wisdom of the Catholic academic tradition. Second, he said these institutions should serve as a “crossroads” whereby people of varying backgrounds may engage in an “atmosphere of civility, hospitality and love.”
The Investiture concluded with a benediction from the chaplain of the Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus Rev. Zachary Swantek.
Nyre outlined the core tenets that will guide his presidency in an interview with The Setonian. He said he plans to focus on students’ success, highlight shared planning which will result in shared action and stress academic integrity and civility.
Additional to Nyre’s implementation of the Great Minds Dialogues, a speaker series which intends to address varying topics, he is leading the strategic planning process and launching the University’s fundraising campaign. Nyre said the strategic planning process intends to elevate student success, advance the institution’s academic portfolio, “ensure we are able to recruit, retain and reward world-class faculty; buttress our Catholic identity and inclusion efforts; and raise needed resources to support college affordability,” among other goals.
Additionally, Nyre said the Investiture itself should highlight the University’s mission, rather than focusing on the individual.
“Investitures should be more about the place than the person — and showcase the institution’s purpose, its promise and its people,” Nyre said. “I was moved by the many Investiture Week events that did this so perfectly.”
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.