Inauguration details: A legacy of excellence, a future of promise

April 1, 2019

Perhaps you’ve heard that there’s going to be a big campus event happening later this month. Here’s a sneak peek of the April 12 inauguration of Chancellor Domenico Grasso.

Tree buds are on the branches. Flowers are poking through the ground. New geese are appearing all over campus. It’s official — spring is in the air.

Adding to that feeling of growth and renewal, University of Michigan-Dearborn is looking forward to another welcome. But this one is in a more official capacity: Chancellor Domenico Grasso’s installation ceremony as the university’s sixth chancellor will take place Friday, April 12.

To prepare for the day, a cross-campus team came together to think of ways to best showcase UM-Dearborn and celebrate the future direction of the campus led by Grasso.

“There has been a tremendous amount of thought and effort that has gone into planning this event,” said Ken Kettenbeil, vice chancellor for external relations. “I cannot say enough about the creativity, attention to detail and hard work that has gone into the planning by the committee members and many others from across campus who have been pulled together to help execute the many aspects of the day. For many people attending the inauguration, this will be their first time on our campus; we really want to showcase the great things happening at UM-Dearborn.”

What to know more? Here are a few details about the day’s special touches. (Look for a full preview of inauguration events next week.)

• Familiar faces come back to campus. Alumni from each graduation year will join the processional into the Fieldhouse, walking to music played by the Michigan Marching Band. Rob Brown (’11 B.A.) will sing the national anthem.

• Hear from someone Chancellor Grasso considers his mentor. Prairie View A&M President Ruth Simmons, who became the first Ivy League African American president when she served at Brown, met Grasso when they were both at Smith College, the largest women’s college in the U.S.. Simmons, then Smith’s president, appointed Grasso as the founding director of Smith’s engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

• New symbols of campus excellence. Thanks to the work of Faculty Senate, the university now has a ceremonial mace. Signifying that the proceedings have official sanction, the mace will first appear on inauguration day, but will also have a place at convocation and commencement.

“The faculty worked to create a mace that’s reflective of Michigan. Not just in the university system sense, but also for the state,” said Professor Marilee Benore, who led the charge for mace design. “The mace has elements to represent who we are as a campus community.”

It’s made of walnut, one of the native trees found in the Environmental Study Area. The ornamentation around it consists of a Michigan-shaped Petoskey stone and copper — both found in Michigan — to represent the state’s upper and lower peninsulas. The founding Ford Motor Co. gift and names of all past chancellors and their years of service are engraved in the copper.

In addition to the mace, new college flags, tapestries with the campus seal and updated signage will be part of the ceremony décor. These items will continue to be used to elevate the look of other major campus celebrations.

• The sounds of Michigan. In addition to providing music during the processional, the Michigan Marching Band will get attendees into the Go Blue! spirit by performing The Victors. Also, violinist and University of Delaware Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music Xiang Gao, a friend of the chancellor’s and University of Michigan alumnus, will perform. The New York Times cited Gao as "a rare and soulful virtuoso."

Later, at the community reception, guests can listen to The Friars, a subset of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, inside the historic Fair Lane — Home of Clara and Henry Ford. Or, for those who prefer the outdoors, the Chris Codish Trio will play under a large open-air tent — with a transparent ceiling to let the sun shine in — on the terrace.

• A gift with a personal touch. Before you leave, be sure to get your inauguration day gift — a memento with connections to campus and the chancellor.

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