Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

C. Reynold Verret Inaugurated as Sixth President of Xavier University

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

C. Reynold Verret Inaugurated as Sixth President of Xavier University

Article excerpt

The last time Xavier University in New Orleans swore in a university president, Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States and two Black athletes staged a silent demonstration against racial discrimination in the United States while performing in Mexico during the 1968 Summer Olympics. That year also saw the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

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The era of Dr. Norman Francis, who presided over the Black Catholic university for 47 years, came to an end as hundreds of faculty, staff, students and political leaders converged on the Convocation Center last month to watch as Dr. C. Reynold Verret was inaugurated as the sixth president of the university.

Verret, an experienced higher education administrator and scientist who previously served as provost and chief academic officer of Savannah State University, was unanimously elected as president of Xavier last spring and began his tenure last July.

Verret earned a bachelor's in biochemistry from Columbia University and a doctorate in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Verret later served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Institute for Immunology at Yale University and the Center for Cancer Research at MIT.

"For education at Xavier is not purely utilitarian," said Verret in his speech. "It is not solely the utility of our degrees, their monetary values that give them merit. Education at Xavier will always be education with a purpose, education with meaning and education to serve. Indeed, to be an Xavierite is an aspiration to be fruitful."

In his speech, Verret--a trained saxophonist--discussed the importance of Xavier continuing as an institution that is civically engaged.

"The founding of Xavier was an endowment to the world in response to the challenges of that day," said Verret. "The times called for raising people up through learning and the formation of leaders, like themselves, to shape communities in Louisiana, across the South and in far-off places. When Xavier graduates went forth, they shared and gave generously of themselves as they had received at Xavier."

A series of dignitaries, including Paul Altidor, the Haitian ambassador to the United States, were on hand to salute Verret, who was born in Haiti. …

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