INAUGURATION of ROBERT C. HELMER
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Helmer Installed as BW President
BW presidents emeritus Neal Malicky, Mark H. Collier and Richard W. Durst spoke at the inclusive ceremony, which also was attended by more than 50 college and university delegates from across the nation, along with approximately 1,800 faculty, staff, students, alumni, family and friends.
Paul H. Carleton '70, chair of the BW Board of Trustees led the formal installation, followed by a litany of affirmation for the institution's new leader. Representatives from all facets of campus life led the litany, calling on the assembled dignitaries and audience to renew their commitment to the mission of Baldwin Wallace.
Address Celebrates BW Heritage, History and People
Stressing the heritage, the history and the people that continually move BW into the future, Helmer noted in his inaugural address that "the bar has always been set high" for Baldwin Wallace, which aspired to be the finest institution in the state of Ohio at its founding.
"The heritage of this institution, founded 167 years ago, is as a Methodist institution that stressed the liberal arts as a foundation not only for making a good living, but for living a good life. That foundation, with its Christian values and attention to the enduring questions of our world, has been the cornerstone of the BW experience, and still is today."
A Community that Comes Together to "Kindle a Fire"
Borrowing from a favorite quote, Helmer applauded current and former members of the campus community as "giants on whose shoulders we stand."
"It always comes down to the people," he said. "Whether we are an English faculty member or a psychology faculty member, whether we are a housekeeper or financial aid counselor, whether we are the president or a vice president, at the end of the day, whatever it is we do here, we do it not for ourselves, but we do it for each other, and for these students."
Quoting the Greek historian Plutarch, who said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled," Helmer added, "the students of Baldwin Wallace look to us to kindle that fire. They look to each other to kindle that fire. And so, as we move forward as Baldwin Wallace University, we do so with the fundamental premise that we are a learning community."
Chain of Office Passed On; New Ceremonial Mace Commissioned
As part of the ceremony, president emeritus Durst, who retired in June, presented Helmer with the ceremonial chain of office. The gold chain, designed by the institution's fifth president, Alfred B. Bonds Jr., is inscribed with the names of all BW presidents and the dates of their tenure.
Baldwin Wallace also used the occasion to symbolically mark the transition from college to university by retiring the ceremonial mace and commissioning a new one. The former mace will be put in a place of honor in the Historian's House. The ceremonial mace, which is carried in academic processions, is a symbol of academic authority and a part of Baldwin Wallace history.
The inauguration audience also enjoyed performances by the BW Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, University Choir, Motet Choir and Music Theatre students. Bishop John Hopkins of the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church provided the benediction that closed the inauguration.
President Helmer came to BW after serving nine years as president of Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio. At Lourdes, Helmer distinguished himself as a dynamic leader with demonstrated strengths in curriculum development, campus life, fund raising and facility development.