Congratulations to Mark A. Roberts, Ph.D., Reinhardt University’s 21st president. The Reinhardt community celebrated his inauguration with a faculty, staff and student brunch, and the inauguration ceremony followed by a reception.
At the brunch, Roberts was presented with several gifts. Tyler Ingram ’23, president of the Student Government, gave Roberts a model tractor and a guitar signed by the student leaders, on behalf of the student body.
Representing Reinhardt’s faculty and staff, Bill Popp, vice president for enrollment management and athletics, presented Roberts with a 1957 first edition copy of “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac in a wooden box hand-made by Reinhardt’s very own Ray Marshall.
A shocked and speechless Roberts exclaimed, “This book changed my life. ‘On the Road’ was such a lyrical book. I had never read a novel that took language as if it were music. When I finished reading ‘On the Road,’ it was like a light went on in my life.”
Late Friday afternoon, the Falany Performing Arts Center was abuzz with the inauguration ceremony. Members of the Board of Trustees spoke along with representatives from the community, faculty, staff, alumni, students, a past colleague, and Roberts’s family. All were encouraging and enthusiastic about Reinhardt’s future with Roberts as the lead.
Reinhardt Board of Trustees chair, C. Ken White ’61 welcomed guests. “I am honored to be part of ensuring that a Reinhardt education is accessible and affordable for many graduates to come. I encourage all of our efforts as we build the next phase of Reinhardt University under the careful and visionary leadership of Dr. Roberts.”
Ellen McElyea, secretary of the Reinhardt Board of Trustees noted, “This is a natural and seamless progression for you (Roberts) and for the University. To say you have already handled challenges is an understatement. Over the last two years, you have led this University through the most challenging era of most of our lifetimes in a steady and positive way. As trustees, we have confidence in you and your ability to lead Reinhardt out of the valley of the shadow of the pandemic and into sunnier days ahead.”
“We believe Reinhardt will continue preparing students for a purposeful life, both academically, socially, and spiritually under the leadership of Dr. Roberts,” said Letitia Cline ’83, president of the alumni board of governors.
During his inaugural address, Roberts said, “The ruling passion of my life is to do work that has real meaning. Early in my career, I gained this visceral sense of purpose by pursuing my first love, which is teaching, and inspiring students to get ahold of the power of learning and to get ahold of the power of their own voice through writing. That was my passion. But, through that, I also began to understand that I had a calling and that calling was to service private higher education, especially colleges located in and around Appalachia.”
Keeping with the inauguration theme of salt and light, Roberts concluded, “I commit to you today to instill hope, to invest in the life that is knowledge, to preserve and lift up the institution’s spirit, and to broaden the scope of opportunities for this great university. And with me, will you commit to being the salt that preserves, flavors, seasons, and spices up Reinhardt? Will you be with me the light that makes it shine with excellence, with openness, acceptance, and benevolence? With me, will you devote yourself to making Reinhardt University a place where the real work is performed to create a good life, not for one, but for all? Will you go with me? Yes? Then let us go, you and I together, being salt and light for Reinhardt.”