LACEY - With academic regalia and Catholic ceremony, Saint Martin's University officially welcomed president Roy Heynderickx to its fold Friday with an inauguration ceremony.
The daylong celebrations opened with a morning Mass in the Abbey Church and was followed by a formal event in Marcus Pavilion with students, faculty members, staff members, the abbey and guests invited from the Archdiocese of Seattle, local colleges, the city of Lacey and other institutions.
Pat Rants, coordinator of the inauguration ceremony and board of trustee member, said Heynderickx’s inauguration feels like the university is celebrating a success.
“It feels like a culmination of two years of effort to find the right person. He’s obviously been here for a while. He’s better than expected. We are not wondering how he’s going to do; Roy’s doing great,” Rants said.
“This [inauguration] ceremony is less is about me and more about Saint Martin’s.” Heynderickx said. “This is a time where the university as a whole – students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends from the community – can come together to celebrate the start of a new era.”
Classes were canceled Friday afternoon so everyone could participate, spokeswoman Genevieve Chan said.
Heynderickx’s appointment in November ended a year of unexpected transition in the top spot, after the departure of former president Douglas Astolfi amid heavy criticism, and the sudden death of the man picked to replace him, Bryan Johnston.
Amid the transitions, the small Catholic university reached milestones, including opening a classroom building and a residence hall to accommodate the growth at the school and expanding its recreational and fitness facilities after a multimillion-dollar appeal for donations.
Heynderickx said his mid-year start was an advantage in getting to know the campus.
“I did a lot of listening those first seven months. I met with as many people as I could, and I listened – to faculty and students, staff and trustee members,” he said.
“As I prepared my speech for this event, I felt lucky that I got to hear a lot of different voices from around the university, and I feel I have a stronger sense of the direction we want for our future.”
Heynderickx, whose appointment was announced in November, was given a presidential medallion, an academic hood representing Saint Martin’s and a copy of “The Rule of Saint Benedict,” a guidebook of the philosophies of Benedict, which are followed by Benedictine monasteries.
The Right Rev. Neal Roth, the abbot of Saint Martin’s and the school’s chancellor, said university officials and the inauguration organizers thought the presentation of the principles written down by Benedict “would be really good to have a connection with that monastic past.”
“Even though Benedict compiled it so long ago, Benedict was a practical man and I think a good psychologist. He knew how to handle people,” he said. The principles include hospitality and respect, he said.
“We are an institution of hospitality, of friendship and of acceptance. It’s something that we’ve tried to do in my whole time here … and that we try to permeate our academic community with. I think our faculty and staff pick that up, and they, in turn, live that out here.”
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