The week of March 18-24 may seem like any other academic week for Eastern students, but it is also the time in which we as a campus officially welcome our new university President, Dr. Ronald Matthews, with an inauguration celebration.
Dr. Matthews has been apart of Eastern’s community since 1992, when Eastern discovered an original Mozart manuscript within the seminary library and asked him to start the music department with the endowment from selling the manuscript. Professor of Music, Chair of the Music Department, and Exec. Director of the Fine and Performing Arts Division, Dr. Matthews has known many different positions at Eastern University.
Last year, Dr. Matthews accepted his new position as the University’s President. His official start date was March 1, 2018, but his first administrative act was canceling classes for the Eagles Super Bowl parade, which allowed many students to attend the celebration without the worries of missing class.
The President’s role is combined with leading the University, along with the Board of Trustees, and serving as the Chief Executive Officer for the schools vision, mission and financial elements. As a leader, Dr. Matthews role makes sure to incorporate all other leadership teams on campus, “developing and strengthening relationships,” stated Dr. Matthews, to make sure Eastern is dedicated to excellence.
During the past year as President, Dr. Matthews desired to listen, love, learn, and lead effectively. In response to his goal from a year ago, Dr. Matthews has learned that “God surprises us with opportunities to be fully dependent in order to strengthen us and encourage us as individuals and as a community.” He notices the importance and power of genuine love. Dr. Matthews believes that in the magnitude of the issues faced at Eastern, he liked the experience of “the newness and discovery of divine call.”
There were multiple nights lacking sleep but Dr. Matthews is “privileged to learn more and more about how influential Eastern is. For me, playing is working together in unity and joy to experience and share beauty, alleviate suffering, and experience life and love together.”
Even though Dr. Matthews has been acting President of Eastern for a little over a year now, the Inauguration celebration was set in place to officially induct and welcome Dr. Matthews to lead this campus. Around Oct., this large, week-long event started to take its shape after informal conversations about the week started the summer after Dr. Matthews became acting president.
“It is not uncommon to wait six to nine months before beginning the planning process for a presidential inauguration. We chose this week because of Founder’s Day being on Tuesday, March 19. It seemed like an appropriate time to link our past with our future,” Dr. Matthews said.
Dr. Matthews has multiple feelings towards the upcoming inauguration. “I love that so many people have participated in organizing a week that celebrates mission, community, and serving others. I want this to be about Eastern, about faith, reason, and justice, and about the glory of God. I have such respect and appreciation for the efforts of so many to shape and promote Eastern University! I’m praying that we will sense that Jesus is really present and He has overcome every enemy of humanity.”
There are quite a few individuals and sects of the Eastern community that have been involved with planning the President’s Inauguration and the events leading up to it. On the Inauguration Committee consists of Meggin Capers, Megan Acedo, Jaynette Arrington, Krista Barnett, Michael “Chief” Bicking, Steven Ford, Isaiah Hayes, Sara Herman, Scott Lofland, Kim Lownes, Eric McCloy, Kathy Meza, Rev. Dr. Joseph Modica, Heather Norcini, Beth Pass, Sarah Piff, Beth Rutledge, and Dr. Michael Thomas.
The other parts of campus that have been vital in the execution of this week are The Marketing and Communications Team, Advancement Team, The Art Club, A/V and Tech Team, Blaze, Campus Services and Plant Operations, Precious Movements, Dance Team, Student Activities Board, University Bookstore, University Student Chaplains, Warner Library, Wednesday Night Worship Team, and many others.
After his Inauguration, Dr. Matthews has many plans for Eastern. Dr. Matthews expressed how much he appreciates the people at Eastern. He mentioned that the faculty and staff at Eastern work with “excellence” and “good will.”
“Our students are fantastic and a source of motivation, excitement, and purpose,” Dr. Matthews said.
This year, Dr. Matthew expressed that Eastern has used their time since last March to develop a transitional plan that will help lay out some of the most important actions the university want to implement as a whole. This means that the administration has been using this year to solidify a clear mission and vision for the university. One mission Eastern has is to increase enrollment.
“I would relish the reality that when people would hear the words, ‘Eastern University,’ they would think “that’s the community of love,” “the whole world needs EU,”’ Dr. Matthews said.
This week will provide fun for the students of Eastern as we celebrate the official induction of Dr. Matthews. There are events and celebrations going on the entire week. For more information on the specific events, please visit https://www.eastern.edu/inauguration!