ARLINGTON, VA -- Matthew D. Shank, Ph.D., was officially invested as president of Marymount University at an Inauguration Mass held in the campus chapel on October 7.
Father David Sharland, Y.A., Marymount’s chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, was the Mass celebrant; Father John Peterson, Y.A., assistant chaplain, and Father Thomas Ferguson, Episcopal Vicar for Faith Formation for the Diocese of Arlington, were the concelebrants. Barry J. Fitzpatrick, chairman of Marymount University’s Board of Trustees, conducted the investiture.
Father Sharland began the ceremony by observing, “Today, we formally welcome a new leader to our community – a man who is deeply committed to furthering Marymount University’s mission as a Catholic institution of higher learning.”
As he prepared to place the Presidential Medallion over Dr. Shank’s shoulders, Mr. Fitzpatrick said, “The Board of Trustees and the campus community have chosen you as Marymount University’s sixth president. The responsibility and privilege of leading Marymount, borne honorably by those who preceded you in office, now pass to you. We are confident in your ability and willingness to carry out this charge. As a community, we stand with you, ready to work together for the continued progress and success of Marymount University.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, President Shank told the congregation, “I am honored to serve as Marymount’s president, and I have great optimism and hope for our University’s future. …Marymount has enormous potential. Much has been accomplished, but much more remains to be done. I thank you for your faith in me, and for giving me the opportunity to have a role in shaping the future of Marymount University. May God bless you all, and may He bless our work together.”
The Mass was a joyous but simple event. It was Dr. Shank’s decision to forgo an elaborate and expensive inauguration ceremony and direct some of the funds that would have been spent on such a celebration toward establishing a scholarship to benefit Marymount students.
He explains, “The phrase that best expresses my thinking about the inauguration is ‘invest versus investiture.’ It makes much more sense to me to invest in our students than to spend money on a grand presidential investiture. I am committed to directing Marymount’s resources toward our highest priorities. And it is clear to me that students are our highest priority.”
Marymount University’s annual President’s Circle Dinner for major donors and close friends was held at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel after the Inauguration Mass. This appreciation event served “double-duty” – as a thank you for the University’s top supporters and a celebration of Dr. Shank’s inauguration.
In his remarks at the dinner, President Shank noted, “Having been on campus for three months now, I am frequently asked, ‘How do you like Marymount?’ My answer is simple: ‘I love it! Being president of Marymount University is the best job in the world!’” He added that Marymount is “poised for greatness,” largely because of the outstanding people that make up the University community.
Dr. Shank noted, “The most compelling reason for saying that I have the best job in the world is Marymount’s students. We have some of the brightest, most committed, most passionate students that you would find anywhere. And they are the heart and soul of our mission.”
To demonstrate his point, Dr. Shank introduced five current students at the dinner – individuals whose academic, extracurricular, and service work “exemplify the best of Marymount University.” They were sophomore Mark Ellis, junior Alia Mohamed, and seniors Jocelyn Garay, Farah Traih, and Jeffrey Wilkins.
Dr. Shank noted, “These students exhibit intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm, compassion, and a willingness to extend themselves beyond what is expected of them. And the good news is that these five are not the only students of this kind at Marymount. We have many, many more just like them.” He added, “It is for these students – and thousands more in the years to come – that we build up Marymount University.”
In the weeks ahead, Marymount will continue to celebrate President Shank’s inauguration at a series of already-scheduled campus events. Homecoming Weekend, Family Weekend, and the Fall Faculty and Staff Reception will provide opportunities for him to share his enthusiasm and vision for Marymount’s future, and to hear ideas from members of the Marymount community.
At the Investiture Ceremony: Barry J. Fitzpatrick, chairman of Marymount University's Board of Trustees, with President and Mrs. Shank and their daughters, Olivia and Grace