LOCK HAVEN-Diversity and accessibility were two central points in Dr. Michael Fiorentino, Jr.'s inauguration speech at Lock Haven University as the university's 14th president yesterday.
He emphasized diversity as strength.
"What makes us different makes us strong. Diversity is a central priority" for the university, Fiorentino said, adding the enrollment plan needs updated.
ELIZABETH REGAN/THE EXPRESS
Lock Haven Mayor Richard P. Vilello Jr., right, welcomes Dr. Michael Fiorentino, Jr. as LHU's 14th president.
Accessibility to higher education is also foremost.
He quoted Thomas Jefferson, "A nation cannot be both ignorant and free," but added, "a university cannot claim greatness if it doesn't offer education to all who desire to learn....We need to expand inclusivity."
He noted that it was his education at Fitchburg State University that opened the doors to this opportunity today.
"I believe higher education should be accessible to all," he said.
These comments were made in the face of one of the nation's worst economic downturns and slashes in funding for higher education.
"We'll be forced to do more with less," he said. Even as President Obama is "calling us to be first in college education....rising tuition, (etc.) are obstacles."
However, he charged, "Even as we look ahead, we must help (students) now."
The "era of technology" has also changed the face of education. Though he detailed the benefits of such, he emphasized the "timeless simplicity of two voices speaking, a student and a teacher, will never lose its value."
He invited everyone to join him in "taking this university to the next level."
"It will never be etched in stone, but a chapter in a book....May all who look at our chapter see it as one as truly remarkable," he said.
Dr. John Cavanaugh, chancellor, PASSHE did the investiture.
"I charge you to use your leadership, sound judgment and integrity with the strengths of this university and apply these strengths as president," Cavanaugh said.
Guido Pichini, chairman, board of governors, swore Fiorentino into office.
Guy Graham presented the medallion.
Dr. David Bower and Dr. Susan Ashley, university marshals, presented the mace.
Among the many Fiorentino thanked, he expressed his gratitude to Dr. Robert Antonucci, president of Fitchburg State University and his mentor.
Antonucci also complimented Fiorentino during his remarks.
"He's a wonderful person. The story I tell of him is one of family, community, trust, excellence and of caring," Antonucci said.
His sister, Linda and his brothers, Dennis, Mark and Douglass and several other family members were present for the inauguration.
He expressly thanked his parents.
"Dad died three years ago, but I know my parents are here today and I thank them for their sacrifice they made throughout their lives," he said.
He also thanked his wife, Pam.
"I don't know how she's tolerated me for 38 years," he joked. "To say thank you is not sufficient."
Prior to the investiture, Mayor Rick Vilello was among the 12 who spoke.
He quoted Lee Ann Womack's song, "I Hope You Dance," likening Fiorentino's journey to it.
"Dr. Fiorentino didn't get here today by sitting it out; he's made a career by choosing to dance. He had a nice career in Massachusetts; he could've retired, but he came here....May your dance be long and successful," Vilello said.
Sharon Heverly, president, LHU AFSCME, drew a laugh with her lively anecdote.
"I went to a spaghetti dinner recently and (Fiorentino) was there taking care of the garbage...he's already doing quite well," she said.
Reed Mellinger, president, LHU Alumni Board, congratulated and welcomed Fiorentino, saying that, "The vibe has been very positive since he took over."
Virginia Roth, vice chair, council of trustees said they serve the students with "integrity and honor."
"Here at the Haven, we're deeply committed to students and community," she said.
Wendy Walsh, vice president, SCUPA, said, "We know you'll put the students first."
Others who spoke were Brent Barge, council of trustees; Stanley Berard, president, LHU APSCUF; Marianne Hazel, interim dean; Craig Dean Willis, president emeritus; and James Gregory, president, LHU Foundation Board.
Exodus Brass played the processional and recessional; LHU Cantori sang the National Anthem and the Alma Mater; and the LHU Army ROTC presented the colors.