Roanoke College

Roanoke College Inaugurates President Michael Maxey

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For photos, videos and more information, visit the inauguration site.

Michael Creed Maxey said he "humbly accepted" the presidency when he was inaugurated Friday as the 11th president of the 165-year-old Roanoke College. "I pledge to do all that I can do to polish the precious gem of our aspirations into a brighter, more faceted Roanoke of tomorrow," he said, asking the more than 1,600 people in the C. Homer Bast Center to join him in that quest.

Among the speakers were Salem Mayor Howard Packett, who had presented Maxey with the key to the city the evening before; the Rev. James Mauney, bishop of the Virginia Evangelical Lutheran Church's Synod, and Dr. Ken Garren, a Roanoke College alumnus who is now president of Lynchburg College. Ninety-one delegates representing other institutions of higher education around the country also attended.

"It is always exciting to see good things happen to good people, and Mike Maxey is so much more than good," said Garren, who had worked previously as a vice president at Roanoke and served beside Maxey for years.

Throughout the service, the audience gave Maxey four standing ovations. In thanking those who have helped him over the years, the new president recognized his wife, Terri, and their three sons as well as his father, 85-year-old Creed Maxey of Bassett. He asked his father to stand and said that his dad had instilled in him "a love for education and an attitude to bloom where you are planted."

Maxey, who has been planted at Roanoke for 22 years, said the College has changed a lot in that time. Viewing the school philosophically three ways - through a microscope, a telescope and his imagination - he praised the College community and promised to build on its accomplishments.

"Things look dramatically different today than they did when I first set foot here in 1985," he said. Citing improvements ranging from a beautifully bricked walkway to significant growth in both faculty and staff, Maxey vowed to continue working with the campus community in improving the College.

"Some of you have heard me describe Roanoke as the little engine that could," he said. "Roanoke is blessed with honesty and discipline in our approach to our future. Those qualities are among our most precious natural resources."

Building on those natural resources, Maxey announced the creation of three new professorships, a new "Initiative for Student Success" and a renovation of Lucas Hall, home of the foreign languages department. One of the new professorships is a gift from Dr. Paul Capp and his wife, Constance Whitehead, of Tucson, Arizona. Capp, a 1952 graduate of Roanoke and member of its Board of Trustees, was a professor and is chief of radiology emeritus at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. The other two professorships are a gift from Charles and Helen Schumann, members of the First English Lutheran Church in Richmond, who have developed a relationship with Roanoke College through the Lutheran Church.

Roanoke is the second-oldest Lutheran-related college in the country, and Maxey said the school could not ask for a more nurturing partnership. "The Reformation was born in a classroom and with a professor, not in a church. That is an encouraging heritage for an institution of higher learning," he said, later adding: "Lutherans give us more than room to breathe; they give us breath."

The Initiative for Student Success is a program for first-year students, and the gifts come from Roanoke trustees Kathryn Snell Harkness '73, Nancy Baird Mulheren '72 and W. Morgan Churchman '65.

"In the coming years, we will strive to become the college known far and wide for outstanding education for learning, leadership and service," Maxey said. "The world needs us to do our part."

Friday's inauguration included the premier of several original works by faculty members, including Dr. Joseph L. Blaha of the Roanoke College Wind Ensemble; Dr. Jeffrey Sandborg, directing the Roanoke College Choir, and Dr. Melanie Almeder, who read an inaugural poem.

The College had held a host of special events leading up to the inauguration, including a Showcase of the Arts, an academic forum and an illumination celebration, which is a tradition dating back to the inauguration of Roanoke's first president. Rain forced the normally outdoor event inside.

Maxey also showed his school spirit by participating Wednesday in a full day of student-coordinated activities. On Friday, he attended a special "service of prayer and thanksgiving" in the College's Antrim Memorial Chapel.

Located in southwest Virginia, Roanoke College is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast." Roanoke's 2,000 students represent 40 states across the U.S. and 22 foreign countries.

For more information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.