Like the Case Western Reserve University students she welcomed to the start of the 2007 academic year during the annual Fall Convocation, Barbara R. Snyder said that in some ways, she, too, is just beginning her education here.
As part of the 2007 convocation ceremony on August 29, Frank N. Linsalata, chair of the university's board of trustees, formally invested Snyder with the responsibilities and authority of the institution's leadership position and bestowed upon her the President's Medal during her formal installation as Case Western Reserve's newest president.
Although she started her academic career as a faculty member at the Case Western Reserve School of Law in the 1980s, Snyder said so many things have changed since then that she has much to learn.
"Back then, CDs were the new thing, and cell phones weighed pounds rather than ounces," she jested before an audience of over a 1,000 in Severance Hall. "Much has changed in the years I was gone, so it is fair to say that more about the university is new to me than is familiar."
Snyder said the best way for her to learn about the current Case Western Reserve is to continue to spend time with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. She cited several historic and recent accomplishments of members of the university community she has come to know.
"Our university is filled with potential; the potential to be among a small number of truly great urban research universities," Snyder said. "Beginning now, we have the opportunity, indeed, the responsibility, to create its future, to ensure that our university lives up to its enormous promise."
Snyder pledged to work with university stakeholders to create a measurable strategic plan and to restore the long-term financial health of the institution.
The university's newest and first woman president drew special attention to the quote from T.S. Eliot's The Four Quartets—"Home is where one starts from"—that has served as the theme for this year's convocation and investiture ceremony. In concluding, she quoted four more lines: We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.
"In many ways, I am getting to know this place, the Case Western Reserve University of the 21st century, for the first time," Snyder said. "But even as I begin, I already have no doubt that it is home."
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