Holy Cross celebrates inauguration of new president

WORCESTER -- Vincent D. Rougeau was installed Oct. 22 as the College of the Holy Cross' 33rd president -- the first lay and first Black president to lead the 178-year-old institution -- in a ceremony punctuated by inspirational words and feelings of excitement and hopefulness.

The installation, held in the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex, put the ceremonial stamp on a tenure that began July 1 when Rougeau took over from his predecessor, Father Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., who was also in attendance.

A nationally respected expert in legal education and Catholic social thought, Rougeau was dean of the Boston College Law School and the inaugural director of the new Boston College Forum on Racial Justice in America, prior to his arrival at Holy Cross. He currently serves as president of the Association of American Law Schools.

In his inaugural address, Rougeau spoke about the challenges ahead for higher education and underscored the importance of making sure higher education is a place where people of all backgrounds can participate in the pursuit of social justice.

"This is our enduring mission, guided by our Catholic faith, and reflecting the changing times," said Rougeau. "This is a moment of opportunity, of audacious hope, and belief in the transformative power of education. This is a day when a Black layman from the south can lead a Jesuit college in New England."

Rougeau, with his family in attendance, shared his vision for the college, a vision rooted in the enduring values of a Jesuit, Catholic, liberal arts education.

"Through a dynamic expression of today's Jesuit mission, we will lead Holy Cross to realize its full potential as one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the world," said Rougeau. "At Holy Cross, we accept that our world is knotty and imperfect. We believe that the best preparation for the challenges of the 21st century is a broad liberal education rooted in discovery, and amplified by our Catholic intellectual traditions."

Attending the event were members of the Holy Cross and Worcester communities, including representatives from colleges and universities throughout the country; Father Joseph M. O'Keefe, provincial of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus; Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty; and Bishop Robert Joseph McManus of Worcester, among others.

Richard H. Patterson, the chair of the college's board of trustees, shared his endorsement and enthusiasm for Vincent Rougeau as the College's new leader.

"We are fortunate to have a leader who has the skill, talent and moral compass to face the challenges ahead," said Patterson. "With Vince Rougeau, we have a leader whose intimate knowledge of higher education, whose faith and commitment to Catholic social teaching ... whose ability to communicate effectively to diverse audiences ... and whose perspectives on today's complex global issues will serve us very, very well."

Inauguration festivities included a faculty symposium on Oct. 21 titled "Global Engagement and Democratic Citizenship," featuring a keynote address by human rights expert, legal scholar and former Dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow; a special concert with famed jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard at Mechanics Hall in Worcester that same day; and an Inauguration Mass on Oct. 22 at Holy Cross' St. Joseph's Chapel.