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Philip E. Austin's inauguration set for April 17 (Released: 4/15/97)

by Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Philip E. Austin, joined on the Jorgensen Auditorium stage by Gov. John G. Rowland, legislative leaders, students and trustees, will be inaugurated as UConn's 13th president during ceremonies at 2:30 p.m. April 17.

Austin, 55, chancellor of the University of Alabama system from 1989 until his arrival at UConn Oct. 1, 1996, will be honored throughout the day, starting with a Founder's Society Luncheon for major donors in the Student Union Ballroom and ending with a public reception in the Student Union Lobby from 4:15-5 p.m. In between, he will be officially inaugurated during formal ceremonies in Jorgensen Auditorium.

The event will feature an address by Austin and brief comments by Rowland; Lewis B. Rome, chair of the Board of Trustees; House Speaker Thomas D. Ritter; and Kevin B. Sullivan, President Pro Tem of the state Senate. Austin also will receive traditional greetings from representatives of the students, alumni, faculty and staff. A processional, in full academic regalia, will open the formal ceremonies.

"Dr. Austin is an impressive individual with an impressive background. I know he is the kind of leader who can take UConn to the next level by increasing private donations, overseeing the UConn 2000 project and developing new partnerships with the private sector. Dr. Austin can make our flagship university an example for the rest of the country," Rowland said last week.

"I think we have a brilliant president," added Robert H. Gray, dean of the School of Fine Arts. "Thus far, President Austin has demonstrated strong and informed leadership -- exactly what we need at this extremely complicated moment in the history of our University."

Inaugural ceremonies at colleges and universities not only celebrate their new leaders but often set the tone for an institution's future. They are always surrounded with traditions, some of which date to medieval times.

Peter Halvorson, the University Marshal, will lead Thursday's ceremonies. It will be Halvorson's third inauguration as University Marshal -- the fourth he has attended -- at UConn. He also served as marshal for the inaugurations of Harry J. Hartley, in April 1991, and John T. Casteen III in October 1985.

Dozens of faculty are expected to join the procession, which will be led by Keith Barker, a professor of computer science and engineering and director of the Teaching Institute, who also is co-chair of the Commencement Committee. Bearing the ceremonial Mace, Barker will lead the fully robed and hooded academics, trailed by Austin and Halvorson, who will carry the Baton, a symbol of the Marshal's authority, to the stage.

The President's Collar, which will be placed around Austin's neck as a symbol of his induction, was first used at UConn in 1964, during the Silver Anniversary of UConn's becoming a University. The University was founded as Storrs Agricultural School in 1881.