On a glorious fall afternoon, Heidelberg University officially inaugurated Robert H. Huntington as its 14th president today amid pomp and circumstance, a vibrant palette of colors, music and poetry and warm wishes for a successful tenure.
The formal investiture ceremony followed a week of events on campus, including an inaugural dinner that brought together about 400 people from the Heidelberg and Tiffin communities, as well as President Huntington’s family and friends. The oath of office, taken from words of the Rev. Charles Miller on the occasion of his inauguration as Heidelberg’s sixth president in 1902, was administered by Sondra Libman, ’67, board chair.
Trustee and Alumni Council President Bob Youngblood, ’70, held for Huntington a Bible owned by the late Terry Wickham, another former Heidelberg president. Trustee and State Sen. Karen Gillmor presented President Huntington with a copy of Heidelberg’s charter while Student Senate President Deven Siesel gave the new president a red, orange and black Heidelberg flag. Faculty members Ruth Wahlstrom and Trevor Bates bestowed him with the official chain of office. Each of those individuals also brought greetings to Huntington and his family on the occasion of the inauguration.
Also delivering greetings were Dr. David Weininger, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, on behalf of the administration; Peggy George, ’99, administrative assistant to the Dean of Student Affairs, on behalf of the staff; and Tiffin Mayor Jim Boroff, ’73, on behalf of the city of Tiffin.
John M. McCardell, president emeritus of Middlebury College in Vermont, where President Huntington received his undergraduate degree and met his wife, Susan McCafferty, brought special greetings for his former student.
The Heidelberg community – including about 700 students – came out en masse to support its new president at the inauguration ceremony. President Huntington was also surrounded by the Board of Trustees and delegates representing 28 colleges and universities from as far away as Germany. All of the Ohio Athletic Conference schools were represented. Harvard University was represented by President Huntington’s former professor and mentor, Judith B. McLaughlin.
Many family and friends – representing the president’s boyhood and college years and professional life – traveled from across the U.S. and from Germany to join in the ceremony and celebration.
“It is an incredible feeling to look out across virtually my entire life at this moment,” he said during his inaugural remarks. “I accept this charge as bestowed and embrace the challenge as understood.”
He framed his inaugural address around the theme for the event, “enriching lives, transforming generations” weaving together Heidelberg’s rich 160-year past with his hopes and expectations for the future.
He concluded: “With the institutional and community joys that this occasion invites, let us celebrate together today and over the next few days. Then, let us get back to the work that we cherish on behalf of Heidelberg University. We have many important matters to tend, great opportunities to grasp and exciting places to reach. Let us go forward together – faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and friends – with a learning spirit, knowing that sometimes we will falter, but that we will always become better. Our “thread of purpose” calls us to the next 160 years because it matters! I am already traveling with every one of you.” (Read the full text of President Huntington’s inaugural address).
The Heidelberg Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Grant Cook, and the Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. John Owen, provided musical entertainment. Original poetry readings were presented by Dr. Bill Reyer, professor of English, and Susan McCafferty.