Administering the presidential responsibilities as expressed by the university’s charter and the will of the community was David L. Boyle, chair of the Wittenberg Board of Directors and a 1969 graduate of Wittenberg. As part of the installation, Boyle presented Joyner with the university’s traditional Luther cap, similar to the one worn by Martin Luther during the Reformation, along with the university’s charter and a medallion featuring the official Wittenberg Seal.
“You have been selected to serve as president of the university, to articulate its identity, values and mission; to be its scout, its pilot, its guide and its leader; and to protect, brighten, display and pass on to others the light that emanates from this community of learners,” Boyle said prior to presenting Joyner to the assembly.
The formal installation followed a number of special greetings, including one from Torsten Zugehoer, mayor of Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany, Springfield’s sister city and site of a newly founded study abroad option for Wittenberg students. During his remarks, Zugehoer presented an original Schutzbrief, a letter of protection, sponsored by the University of Wittenberg, which was issued to a student in 1813. Zugehoer noted that the letter allowed the student to travel freely in Germany to receive an education and asked that Joyner and Wittenberg University also enjoy such protection.
Additionally, Zugehoer presented a personal gift, a watch with a wooden face fashioned from wood from the belfry of the city church, St. Mary’s, in Wittenberg, the church where Martin Luther delivered his sermons.
“The first man’s watch was presented to the president of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Zugehoer said with translation assistance from Witenberg Associate Professor of Languages Timothy Bennett. “I am delighted to be able to present [President Joyner] with the first woman’s watch, number one of the limited edition.…May this watch help you now and in the future to make the right decisions at the right time to promote the welfare of Wittenberg University.”
Joining Zugehoer in welcoming Joyner were Presiding Bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Mark S. Hanson, Wittenberg Provost Christopher Duncan, Student Senate President Shelly Gregory, class of 2013, Professor of Communication Catherine Egley Waggoner and Springfield community leader Andrew Bell.
Wittenberg’s 11th president, William A. Kinnison, class of 1954, and Wittenberg’s 12th president, L. Baird Tipson, were also recognized during the inauguration, which included musical performances by The Wittenberg Choir and the IMANI Gospel Choir, as well as a scripture reading by The Rev. Charles L. Currie, national higher education leader, and an introduction by Rollins College President Lewis M. Duncan. Joyner previously served in several senior-level capacities at Rollins prior to accepting the presidency at Wittenberg.
Following the formal installation, Joyner presented her inaugural address titled “Delivering on the Promise of the Wittenberg Mission in the 21st Century,” in which she first thanked her family, mentors and all those gathered, including the 60 delegates representing institutions of higher learning, for their support and encouragement. She also expressed her gratitude to the Board of Directors for its confidence in inviting her to lead Wittenberg at this important time in its history.
“I feel fortunate to have joined such a caring and compassionate community,” Joyner said.
Joyner then celebrated the university’s academic, service, and athletic excellence, and highlighted three areas of collaborative focus for the university to explore during the academic year, including institutional mission, student success and university-community partnerships.
“Our mission is powerful because it focuses on both the intellectual and ethical dimensions of student development,” Joyner said. “In this way, Wittenberg challenges students to recognize that learning is something to be used to enhance the greater good.”
Recognizing the university’s Lutheran heritage, Joyner noted that “it is incumbent upon us to continually examine how historic values and traditions inform our work today in distinctive ways.”
In terms of student success, Joyner asked the campus community to consider the role it plays in ensuring that each student reaches his or her full potential.
“Having served as both chief academic officer and chief student affairs officer, I have come to believe that if we are to truly deliver on the promise of a holistic educational experience designed to enhance the intellectual, social, physical and spiritual development of students then we have to place the individual strengths, weaknesses and needs of those students at the center of our attention,” Joyner said.
“In this way, I believe that faculty members as well as co-educators on campus can work to intentionally integrate the learning that takes place both inside and outside the classroom helping each student make the most of their college years, and, ultimately, reach their potential.”
Joyner also discussed the power of community partnerships in the life Wittenberg and Springfield.
“From its founding, there has been an expectation that Wittenberg would not simply be ‘in’ the Springfield community, but rather ‘of’ the Springfield community,” Joyner said, citing the Hagen Center for Civic & Urban Engagement as the embodiment of this core value.
“I am optimistic that by staying firmly focused on our mission, keeping the needs of students at the center of our consideration, and exercising our university-citizenship responsibilities that our efforts will continue to effectively prepare students for successful careers and meaningful lives.”
Joyner’s inauguration was the culmination of a weeklong series of student-centered, mission-inspired activities, which included several meet-and-greets, a special luncheon for women in leadership and a Tiger Rally. The event also served as the Wittenberg Series-sponsored Opening Convocation for the new academic year. Now in its 30th year, the Series offers a range of free cultural programming to the community.
To continue the focus on the academy during this inaugural year, Wittenberg will honor the heart of its mission with a celebration of students’ academic and creative work next spring. This special series of events will begin on April 10, 2013, and continue throughout the day on Friday, April 12, 2013, the date of the university’s annual Honors Convocation. Events scheduled at this time include dramatic and musical performances, student research poster sessions, panel discussions and exhibitions of student artwork.
Founded in 1845, Wittenberg University is a nationally ranked liberal arts university dedicated to intellectual inquiry and wholeness of person within a diverse residential community. Reflecting its Lutheran heritage, Wittenberg challenges students to become responsible global citizens, to discover their callings, and to lead personal, professional and civic lives of creativity, service, compassion and integrity.
Written By: Karen Gerboth
Photos By: Erin Pence
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