Presidential celebration

It’s official. At a Friday morning convocation in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, mathematician Robert J. Zimmer was formally installed as the 13th president of the University.

The 487th convocation, noted University Marshal Lorna P. Straus, SM’60, PhD’62, followed a pattern established by Chicago’s first president, William Rainey Harper: the inauguration was an occasion to grant degrees, to look forward to “the opportunities and necessities of the future," and to come together as one community.

Trustees, faculty, alumni, and delegates from other educational institutions and societies who filled the chapel, as well as community members who viewed the ceremony by video or Webcast, heard the new president describe an institution with an essential value: “a singular focus on inquiry.”

After naming some of the many tasks that go with the office, Zimmer put the to-do list into personal and institutional perspective: “My core responsibility as the president of the University of Chicago” is to ensure that the University realizes its fundamental principles “in the most enduring way.” Because “enduring values should not be confused with enduring answers,” Zimmer urged “boldness, imagination, and discipline,” as the institution strives to "recognize and embrace change" in asking and answering the questions of the day.

In a day that stressed the spirit of inquiry and the community of academic tradition, seven distinguished scholars—including stem-cell investigator, Allan Spradling, AB’71—were awarded honorary degrees; representatives of Chicago's faculty, students, and alumni welcomed the president; and the chapel echoed Brahms's Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80: "Vivat academia."


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Scenes from an inauguration: President Robert Zimmer's family and friends greet him as the convocation procession goes by; Rockefeller Chapel fills with people and pageantry; from the inaugural address: "It is not that our predecessors discovered the right shape of the University once and for all."

Photos by Dan Dry

October 26, 2006