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 SRU Inaugurates New President -- Dr. Robert W. Smith 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:

For photo of President Smith, CLICK HERE  (other photos of the ceremony may be downloaded from the SRU homepage)


             SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Before a packed house of 750, Dr. Robert M. Smith became the 15th president of Slippery Rock University, then used the occasion to tout the University’s stature in an arena of higher education and share the spotlight with those who share the responsibility of continuing to build the institution.

          During his 12-minute address in the University Union, President Smith used humor and philosophy to share the importance of the day. “Today’s successful university is not a hierarchy, but a pluralistic enterprise with multiple centers of influence and interest held together by a shared vision and shared values. Despite the appearance of chaos, the university is a purposeful community highly reliant on the individual dual talents and motivation of its faculty, staff and administration.”

          He added, “This is especially true today at Slippery Rock University. We are where we are in the 116th year of Slippery Rock University because we got here together. Because we care about what we do. We have already demonstrated the power we have when we work together.”

          Smith was appointed to the post last May following a national search and had previously served SRU as provost and vice president of academic affairs, before being named interim president during the search.

          The newly inaugurated president thanked his parents for imparting their values and his wife of 40 years for her devotion. He also acknowledged his many friends who traveled to join in the ceremony and those representing Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest all-academic honorary, which installed a chapter at SRU last Thursday. Smith pointed to the honorary as an “affirmation to the academic community we are building at Slippery Rock University.”

          In continuing his building theme, the president said, “Our vision is clear, and we are focused to achieve it. Put simply, we are building an engaged intellectual community. We have staked our future on strengths shaped over the past 115 years: a residential educational experience.”

          In the hour-long ceremony, Smith was praised for his leadership, his humor, his understanding and his vision by those who took the podium to bring greetings from various constituent groups. Speakers included Max Speight, longtime personal friend, who delivered the invocation, and Jude Butch, president of the Slippery Rock University Student Government Association, who spoke on behalf of students, calling Smith “a student’s president” and thanking him for his cooperation in SGA initiatives. Dr. Jace Condravy president of the Association of Pennsylvania State, College and University Faculty, Lt. Kevin Sharkey, of University Police, representing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the State College and University Professional Association, Security, Police, Fire Professionals of American and the Office of Professional Employees International Union, welcomed the president, and Dr. Charles T. Curry, vice president for finance and administrative affairs, represented SRU’s administration.

          Also taking the podium were William Kirker, president of the SRU Alumni Association, Alan B. Offstein, chair of the Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc., Dr. Kenneth Harris, mayor of Slippery Rock, Dr. Frank G. Pogue, Jr., president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, representing all of higher education, Dr. Robert Marcus, SRU Council of Trustees chair, and John K. Thornburgh, representing PSSHE in bringing well wishes to the new president.

          More than 150 delegates representing colleges and universities from around the world joined in as did a contingent of SRU students representing student organizations. A group of international students also participated in the cross-campus procession, many wearing clothing indicative of their homeland culture.

          The oath of office was conduct by Dr. Judy Hample, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, who cited her 30-year friendship with Smith and praised both his leadership and educational vision. The university medallion, designed by Robert Bruya, professor of art, and SRU art students, was presented by Marcus.

           Wilma J. Cavill, the university’s most-veteran faculty member, served as grand marshal and presented Smith with the university mace, and music was provided by Dr. Colleen Gray Neubert, assistant professor of music, the University Choir, under the direction of Kevin Smith, assistant professor of music, and the SRU Brass Ensemble, directed by Stephen Hawk.

           A public reception followed in Boozel Dining Hall and an inaugural celebration for 300 invited guests was hosted by the Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc., in the newly opened Regional Learning Alliance at Cranberry Woods. The event included comments from Chancellor Hample and Offstein, foundation chair, who commended Smith “for his visionary leadership in developing the Regional Learning Alliance.” The RLA brings 11 western Pennsylvania leading education providers together to offer workforce training and degree programs in the area.

          Also speaking at the event was Dennis Zeitler, chief financial officer of Mine Safety Appliances and chair of the RLA Foundation, Inc.


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