EIU president finally gets ceremonial inauguration

EIU president finally gets ceremonial inauguration

By: Ashley Rueff

By: Ashley Rueff

By: Ashley Rueff

By: Ashley Rueff

CHARLESTON – Eastern Illinois University President Bill Perry finally got all the bells and whistles of an academic welcoming Friday at his inauguration in Charleston.

Perry has served as Eastern's president since July 1, but was formally honored at the ceremony with full academic regalia and lots of applause.

"I stand humbled by the opportunity to serve as president of a university with a proud past and a bright future," Perry said. "Today we formally observe a beginning in the life of Eastern Illinois University."

Robert Webb, who chairs Eastern's Board of Trustees, did his best to place the university's medallion over the head of the 6-foot-6-inch president as the crowd laughed and applauded.

"He is taking presidential visibility to a whole new level," Webb joked to the crowd.

Perry was named Eastern's 10th president last April after President Lou Hencken announced plans to retire July 30. Perry left his position as vice provost at Texas A&M to return to the Midwest, where he was raised.

Originally from Missouri, he received his master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Illinois.

Judy Erwin, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, expressed her happiness at having Perry back in Illinois.

"Welcome back to the Midwest, Dr. Perry," Erwin said. "And what better place to lay out that welcome mat than Eastern Illinois University."

State Sen. Dale Righter, state Rep. Chapin Rose and state Rep. Bob Flider also attended the ceremony in academic regalia.

"The most important tradition that we can carry on here today is the tradition of outstanding leadership," Righter said. "I think Dr. Perry has made it very clear, very early on, that everything that happens here at Eastern is toward producing a better graduate and a better citizen."

Sitting not far from the legislators were four past presidents of the university who dusted off their caps and gowns for the ceremony.

Daniel Marvin, Eastern's fifth president, hadn't worn his regalia for nearly 25 years since leaving Eastern in 1983, he said.

"It's a wonderful occasion for the university," Marvin said. "I think (Perry is) just what the university needed. I don't see how they could have made a better choice."

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