President Waded Cruzado is only the 12th person in Montana State University's 117-year history to lead the institution, and this week MSU is going to make the most of it.
A two-day inaugural celebration is planned on Thursday and Friday. It will feature an appearance by Gov. Brian Schweitzer (an MSU alumnus), presentations by MSU students and faculty, panel discussions on the mission of land-grant universities, the grand opening of the two-year Gallatin College programs, and the first exhibition in Montana of the actual 1862 law that created land-grant colleges, signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
For those who like pomp, circumstance and a chance to see the medieval robes and funny hats worn by professors of engineering, letters and the like, there will be a procession to the Strand Union Building and an investiture ceremony on Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. Cruzado will then give an inaugural address. The inauguration will be streamed lived on the MSU website.
Cruzado, 50, MSU's first woman and first minority president, wrote in her Monday Morning Memo to all MSU staff and students that some people may wonder why MSU is bothering with an inauguration now, since she has been on the job for eight months.
"Just recently, one very nice man made me smile when he asked, ‘Does that mean you have decided to stay with us?'" Cruzado wrote. "Quite honestly, I feel very humbled by this ceremony that takes place during the first year after the appointment of a new university president.
"For me, this ceremony should be more about the institution than one individual."
Cruzado was adamant that no taxpayer dollars would be used for the inauguration, said Tracy Ellig, MSU news service director. Instead, MSU is using funds given to the nonprofit MSU Foundation for the president's discretionary use.
Past inaugural ceremonies for previous presidents have sparked criticism from a few faculty members, who have seen them as a waste of time or money.
Ellig said there's "great value in revisiting the core mission and historical legacy of this institution and in inspiring us - the university community - toward the future. That is what this celebration aims to do."
As for the timing, it's traditional to hold inaugurations in the fall, Ellig said. And it offers a chance to tie in with Wednesday night's Freshman Convocation at the fieldhouse. Then MSU graduate and author Kevin Connolly, who has toured the world and competed in extreme skiing despite being born without legs, will speak to incoming students.
The public is invited to all events, which are free, Ellig said. "We really hope they come."
Gail Schontzler can be reached at email@example.com or 582-2633.