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Robert A. Brown is inaugurated

Tenth president will focus on learning, excellence, engagement and inclusion

In an Agganis Arena packed with academic gowns of blue, scarlet, kelly green, purple, and black, Robert A. Brown was inaugurated Thursday afternoon as the 10th president of Boston University. Academics from more than 90 colleges and universities joined University officers, trustees, and honorary trustees, the board of overseers, and thousands of students, faculty, staff, and alumni at a ceremony whose entertainment included the Inner Strength Gospel Choir and the Faculty Brass Quintet.

Alan M. Leventhal, chairman of the Board of Trustees, welcomed the crowd and introduced the speakers, who included Student Union president Jonathan Marker (CAS’07), Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01), and the vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, David F. D’Alessandro.

D’Alessandro spoke of the many candidates who were brought before the search committee, a pool, he said, that included senators, Fortune 500 CEOs, and former presidents of countries. Only one candidate, D’Alessandro said, waited before answering questions until the entire question had been asked, and only one candidate was not afraid to admit that he did not have all the answers. That candidate, he said, was Bob Brown. Brown, who holds a doctorate in chemical engineering, was provost of MIT before he was named president of Boston University in June 2005. He took office last September and has served a full academic year in the position.

Leventhal invested Brown as president, charging him with the responsibility of upholding Boston University’s tradition of “learning, virtue, and piety, while at the same time shaping this University to meet the ever-changing concerns and problems of our age. The University’s colors, scarlet, representing courage and life itself, and white, representing the blending of all virtues, are entrusted to you,” said Leventhal. “We now further commit to your care and custody the charter of Boston University.”

Brown in turn pledged to do everything he could to earn the trust that had been placed in him. The new president identified five themes he plans to focus on as president — learning, excellence, connectivity, engagement, and inclusion — and spoke about the need for the University to remain connected to the city of Boston, to offer undergraduates a more complete and interdisciplinary education, and to build on BU’s academic, social, and cultural diversity.

“I truly believe that universities are places where dreams come true, where having an imagination is paramount, and where hard work and intelligence are all that matter to excel in education and research,” he said. “My most profound goal is to help Boston University be this type of institution for our students and faculty. I commit my energy, and I look forward to joining with all of you to make our vision for the future a reality.”

Click here to hear Bob Oakes of WBUR interview Robert Brown on WBUR.org. (6:15).