The Suffolk University community gathered for a celebration kicking off a new generation for the school as Dr. James McCarthy officially became the ninth president of Suffolk in a formal inauguration ceremony held at Faneuil Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
At a morning gathering attended by upwards of 700 students, professors, staff, alumni, politicians, fellow college presidents from over 70 universities, and several members of the Boston police including their Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums that began the opening procession, James McCarthy was officially declared president of Suffolk University.
Beginning just minutes after the stated time of 10:00, close to 100 presidents from local colleges walked in and took their respective seats on each side of the first floor of Faneuil Hall and then the first few rows in front of the stage.
Once they were seated, the dozen or so esteemed speakers took their seats on the stage alongside McCarthy. Those who spoke include Peter Meade, Chief Economic Development officer for Boston Redevelopment Authority on behalf of Mayor Thomas Menino; the honorable Therese Murray, president of the Massachusetts Senate; the honorable Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; Robert Caret, president of University of Massachusetts and Suffolk alumnus; and Samienta Pierre-Vil, president of the Student Government Association (SGA.)
To break from the speeches, the Zion Gospel Choir sang the National Anthem and, later on in the inauguration, the Suffolk University Ramifications gave an impressive rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Unwritten.”
Dr. Robert Allison, chair of Suffolk’s History Department, provided the audience in attendance, and also those viewing online via livestream, with an interesting yet amusing keynote address. Among students at Suffolk, many seem optimistic about the college’s future.
Tyler LeBlanc, Sophomore class Senator for SGA, said “I think [President McCarthy] is a great president and has a lot of goals…[he] wants to serve the students the best way he can which is awesome.”
LeBlanc, a student double-majoring in accounting and entrepreneurship, went on to say that McCarthy’s “ability to listen to students and attack the problems they bring up will help Suffolk have a bright future.”
Although he actually began almost a year ago in February, many people across campus said they have already seen improvements under McCarthy’s leadership. Before being selected for the prestigious position of college president, he was a Provost and Senior Vice President at Baruch College in New York City. First receiving a BA in sociology from the College of the Holy Cross 1971, McCarthy would continue on and earn an MA in sociology from Indiana University in 1972, a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University in 1977. While at the University of New Hampshire, McCarthy was a professor and Dean of the School of Health and Human services. He also taught at Columbia University and the Johns Hopkins University.
After Suffolk’s previous president David Sargent resigned in 2010 over criticism for having one of the highest salaries among college presidents nationwide, many were concerned about Suffolk’s future. “From where I stand, our future looks exceptionally bright. And I am confident that we are poised on the edge of a most exciting new era,” said McCarthy during his address.
Suffolk’s board of trustees recently approved a five-year strategic plan with unanimous passing that is supposed to improve the school in more ways than one. It is something that many students are also looking forward to.
Megan Driscoll, a freshman on the women’s basketball team at Suffolk, attended the inauguration on Tuesday and said “experiencing the inauguration of President McCarthy, I can already say will be one of the most valuable days I have here at Suffolk. President McCarthy exemplifies all the great qualities and characteristics needed to fulfill such an imperative role at a seemingly crucial time.”
Driscoll, who is majoring in entrepreneurship and management, also said she holds “the highest regard for President McCarthy as well as all of his accomplishments prior to this day and look forward to the positive effects he will continue to have here at the university.”
At 1:30 p.m., Suffolk University hosted an hour-long student reception in the lobby of 73 Tremont. The reception included free ice cream and cake, as well as a surprise flash mob performance of Michael Jackson songs by Suffolk’s own Wicked dance group. McCarthy also stopped by to say hello to everyone and give a short speech.