Michael J. Graham, S.J., was inaugurated as the University’s 34th Jesuit president on Saturday, Sept. 8, setting off a three-day series of events and celebrations at the University.
Aiming for the convergence of what he calls “twin goals,” Graham began his presidency by laying out what he sees as the mission of the University under his leadership.
“First and foremost…a Jesuit university must have a profound reverence for and a dedication to the life of the mind. A university that does not aggressively cultivate, support, nurture and reward intellectual pursuit and academic excellence is not worthy of the term Jesuit…All other activities of the university—all of them—must lead to and flow from the pivotal valuing of the intellectual enterprise as such.”
The second of these “over-arching goals,” he says, is the developing “of the whole person” to be “committed to a justice that springs from a perspective of faith.”
“As with the academic excellence that springs from intellectual rigor, so too with the drive for justice and solidarity that faith demands: all other activities of the university—all of them—must lead to and flow from this central commitment of the heart and soul for justice.”
“By renewing Xavier University in light of the mission that always hovers ahead of us, just beyond our reach, we will take our place among the generations of those who have built before us that which has now come into our care that we might pass on to those who will come after us something well worth receiving and celebrating.” The inauguration began with a Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati, the point of origin for all Jesuit ministries in Cincinnati. There, Graham was invested into the position by University chairman Michael Conaton, and officially appointed into the position by Richard Baumann, S.J., provincial superior of the Chicago province of the Society of Jesus. “In the name of the Society of Jesus, I entrust to you the responsibility of caring for our apostolate of Xavier University and of all those who labor here,” said Baumann. “May this enterprise of teaching and learning thrive under your leadership for the greater glory of God.”
The Mass was followed by a reception and dinner in the Cintas Center on campus. After the dinner, Graham received his call to service from members of the Xavier faculty and student body, and a charge regarding the Cincinnati Catholic community by Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk.
On Sunday, Graham presided over the 10:00 p.m. student Mass on the campus’ academic mall. The Mass was followed by a party. The inauguration festivities continued on Tuesday with a daylong academic convocation in the Cintas Center. Classes were cancelled for the day. The convocation centered around three interdisciplinary dialogues:
• Globalization: Ethics, Economics and Culture in an Age of Globalization;
• Engaging Our World of Complexities; and
• Dialogue on Black/White Community Building.
Various personal events were mixed in between the events.