SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Cheryl Norton is fond of saying, "The sun always shines in Slippery Rock," and that was the certainly case for her inauguration as Slippery Rock University's 16th president, last Friday on the Quad under beautiful, often sunny, skies.
The SRU faculty, students and invited guests, including former SRU Presidents Robert Aebersold and G. Warren Smith, marched from the upper portion of campus to the quad led by an Army-ROTC color guard and a samba percussion line directed by David Glover, associate professor of music. Wilma Cavill, assistant professor of safety management, served as grand marshal, and William Williams, provost and vice president for academic affairs, served as presiding officer for the 90-minute ceremony.
Dignitaries from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the SRU Council of Trustees were among those to bring greetings as Norton became SRU's first female president. Family and friends, as well as University staff and students also joined the mid-morning ceremony.
Guido Pichini, chairperson of the PASSHE board of governors, and Peter Garland, PASSHE executive vice chancellor, conducted the formal investiture. Eric Holmes, chair of the SRU Council of Trustees, formally presented Norton for investiture.
Norton opened her inaugural address, saying, "I could not be more humbled by the trust you have placed in my leadership."
She thanked her family and supporters, saying, "These are people that nurtured me long before I came to western Pennsylvania, gave me the wisest of counsel and supported my personal and professional growth. It is because of their belief that I continued to challenge myself and now stand here before your today."
"May I always have the strength and wisdom to help others in the way I have been helped...Family is what makes life real and meaningful," she said.
She said she was proud to now be part of SRU's history.
"And, what a future we have. I continue to believe that this is an institution with a tradition of excellence and a future of unlimited potential."
She cited a number of recent SRU accolades, and said, "Please remember, these recognitions are not simply given - they are earned. They are earned as a result of your commitment to a vision of excellence and student success through the development of a caring community of lifelong learners - learners who connect to the real world not only through their academic programs, but also by reaching out to serve the society in which we live. As a result, Slippery Rock University not only transforms the lives of individuals, but helps to shape the character of the community, the region, the commonwealth and even the country."
"Yes, Slippery Rock University is a public institution working for the good of the public," she said.
She thanked previous administrations for their work in building the campus.
"The 21st century beckons and will continue to present new challenges and opportunities, not only for our students, but for us as educators in service to our students," she said.
"Slippery Rock University must not only be Pennsylvania's premier public residential university, but it must be dynamic and flexible in response to the challenges of our ever-changing society and the people we serve; a leader in excellence, innovation and responsible citizenship. In this way, Slippery Rock University will continue to be the best choice, first choice institution for our region, for our commonwealth, for our students," she said.
She encouraged those attending to, "Embrace the challenge; think creatively, be bold, reach out; do the unexpected, but be intentional about the focus - a 21st-century educational experience. It is not problematic to march to the beat of a different drummer, as we did today during our processional, or to be out-of-step, but we should do so with purpose. Together we will continue our march toward excellence. Together we will ensure that Slippery Rock University is a guiding light for public higher education in the commonwealth and through the country. Together, Slippery Rock will be a university that delivers on the promise of providing an accessible, quality educational opportunity across all socio-economic classes for those who truly want to challenge their minds and change their future. Together this is the challenge we must embrace."
"We as a society and as educators face many challenges, but there are also tremendous opportunities and much to be done. I believe together, we have the courage, the judgment, the integrity and the dedication to succeed. At Slippery Rock University let our commitment to the success of our students be our strongest and lasting legacy," Norton said.
Selase Williams, longtime Norton friend and colleague now provost at Lesley University, introduced Norton.
A campuswide reception immediately followed the inauguration and a fundraising scholarship dinner in the Smith Student Center concluded the day. Proceeds will benefit the Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship created in her honor.
Norton assumed her presidential duties at SRU June 4.
She is a graduate of Denison University where she earned her bachelor's degree in physical education and recreation. She also holds three degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York; a master of arts in applied physiology and both a master of education and a doctor of education in applied physiology.
She has completed additional studies at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.
Most recently, Norton had served as a senior fellow with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C. She had formerly served as president of Southern Connecticut State University, a role she undertook in 2004 and held for six years.
During her SCSU tenure, she led the development of the university's strategic plan, directed a $260 million building plan and revision of the campus master plan and led the Connecticut State University System's development of a transfer compact agreement with Connecticut's community college system.
For Norton’s complete inaugural address, click here.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.