Roanoke College

The Inauguration of Dr. Sabine U. O'Hara


On October 14, Dr. Sabine U. O'Hara was inaugurated as the president of Roanoke College. O'Hara is the 10th president since the Lutheran college was founded 162 years ago and the first woman to

serve as president. O'Hara began her career at Roanoke on August 1 after serving as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Office of the President

Dr. O'Hara's Speech

Photo Gallery


The inauguration was a traditional academic ceremony with Dr. O'Hara processing at the end of a long, colorful academic procession. The procession was led by Roanoke College's chief faculty marshal carrying the college mace, followed by the U.S. flag and the flags of 25 countries, representing the countries of Roanoke College students. The procession included the faculty of Roanoke College and representatives of the Board of Trustees, staff and students. Joining the Roanoke College delegates were delegates of colleges and universities, including 10 college presidents. Educational organizations such as Phi Beta Kappa, the national liberal arts honor society, also sent delegates. A complete list of the 65 delegates is inserted in the Inaugural program.

The inauguration ceremony was led by the chair of the college's Board of Trustees, Robert Wortmann, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. The invocation was given by Rev. R. Paul Henrickson, Timothy L. Pickle Jr. and Timothy L Pickle III Dean of the Chapel. The benediction was given by Rev. Dr. Theodore F. Schneider '56, Bishop of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Greetings were offered by Dr. John Day, vice president and dean, on behalf of faculty and staff; from Laura Braaten '05 on behalf of the students; Judith Hall '69, on behalf of Roanoke alumni and parents; Rev. James F. Mauney, on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Wendy Zomparelli, on behalf of friends and community; and Dr. David L. Warren on behalf of the higher education community.

The presidential medallion was bestowed to O'Hara by her two predecessors: Presidents Emeriti Dr. David Gring and Dr. Norman Fintel.

Special music was composed by Roanoke College music professors. The Roanoke College Wind Ensemble premiered Procession by Dr. Joseph Blaha, assistant professor of music. The Roanoke College Choir gave a premier performance of The Spirit and The Gifts, by Dr. Jeffrey Sandborg, professor of music.

Following the inauguration, a celebratory campus lunch was held on the Back Quad. During the lunch, student groups planted an historic tree in honor of Dr. O'Hara. Entertainment was provided by student groups Looking for an Echo, Mainstreet and the Roanoke College Jazz Ensemble.

On Tuesday evening, The Kandinsky Trio gave a special concert in honor of O'Hara's inauguration. The annual appreciation breakfast for City of Salem officials was held Wednesday. At that event, the Charles Brown Award was presented to two Salem residents; former city council member Gerald Pace and community volunteer Missouri "Mo" Nelson '44.

On Wednesday evening, a candlelit worship service was held in Antrim Chapel. Afterwards, the guests moved outside to the Back Quad for an historic re-enactment of the inauguration of Roanoke's first president, Dr. David F. Bittle. The historic Illumination included a ride in a horse-drawn carriage for Sabine and Phil O'Hara and a three-volley salute by cannon and musket, compliments of local Civil War re-enactors representing the town militia that participated in Dr. Bittle's inauguration. The Illumination is based on a letter found in the Fowler Archives of the college's Fintel Library. In this letter, a student describes Bittle's inauguration to his mother. He tells of a parade of faculty and town officials, including a color guard and the militia, which offered a three-volley salute for the new president.

Roanoke College, the country's second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Its 1,850 students represent Virginia and 41 states across the U.S., along with 25 foreign countries. The college offers 33 majors, including professional preparation in business and education and pre-professional programs in law, medicine, dentistry, engineering and ministry. The college is listed in U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges Guide as a national liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 270 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. Roanoke is featured in Colleges of Distinction, a new college guide profiling some of America's best bets in higher education.