University welcomes White

The University of Illinois´ 16th President B. Joseph White waves to the crowd and smiles after making his inaugural address at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday afternoon. Troy Stanger

The University of Illinois´ 16th President B. Joseph White waves to the crowd and smiles after making his inaugural address at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday afternoon. Troy Stanger

By Courtney Klemm

With his wife, two children and parents present, B. Joseph White was installed as the 16th president of the University of Illinois on Thursday afternoon in a light-hearted ceremony that Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence Eppley called a “very joyous occasion.”

“Thank you for entrusting me with the honor and responsibility of leading the University of Illinois,” White said to the crowd of about 2,000 attendees. “I feel like I made it through the probationary period. It’s a real thrill.”

White, led by the Marching Illini, administrators, students, faculty and Board of Trustees members, proceeded to the installation ceremony at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., after an invitational lunch at the Illini Union.

The ceremony was filled with music by the University’s combined choirs and symphony orchestra and remarks by University professors, faculty, students and others, including taped comments from Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). The remarks offered many congratulations and expressed hopes for the University.

“I couldn’t be happier knowing B. Joseph White is being installed as the 16th president,” Blagojevich said. “The University of Illinois needs (his) leadership. I know the University is in good hands.”

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    Several speakers offered challenges for White during his tenure in office.

    “Your challenge will be to develop our younger generation,” Obama said in his video addressing White. “College education is the foundation of opportunities. Your presidency certainly gives me hope for a better Illinois and a better nation.”

    During the installation process, the University’s past two presidents, Stanley Ikenberry and James Stukel, came forth to present the University charter and the presidential medallion to White. White then gave his first speech as installed president, complete with a slideshow of old photos of the University as it was built, landmarks of all three campuses and faces of distinguishable faculty and students over the school’s 138-year history.

    “The University of Illinois is a tribute to the foresight of past generations,” White said. “Our University’s transforming power has spilled over to the nation and the world through the brilliant accomplishments of our faculty and alumni.”

    White focused mostly on the future of the University.

    “I did not come here to preside over decline,” he said. “(We can create) a future in which we will be excellent, win against our best competitors, serve the state, nation and world, and be a source of continuing pride for millions.”

    White said he could predict several changes the University would go through during his tenure, including addressing pressing world problems, becoming more innovative and aggressive, and building stronger financial foundations. He laid out four requirements in creating a “brilliant future” for the University: strategic and inspiring plans, resources, leadership and creative ideas.

    “You will find that I subscribe to the philosophy of ‘yes’,” White said. “Yes, we welcome your ideas. And yes, we can make them happen.”

    White also pointed out many areas of pride for each of the University’s three campuses.

    “I am honored to lead a university that for nearly 140 years has been an institution of such enormous consequence to the students, the state, the nation and the world,” he said. “With an overarching mission and three unique campuses, we strive to achieve the golden mean, a perfect balance between collective identity and individual character.”

    Katherine Rios, senior in Education, expressed her excitement for White’s installation in her speech as a representative of the University’s student body.

    “This University challenges students to reach their potential every day,” Rios said. “President White, we all anxiously await to see what great plans you have for this University. We all sincerely welcome you home.”

    Hastert said via video that he was confident in White’s abilities to lead the University to success.

    “He knows what it takes to run a world-class University,” Hastert said. “President White has a vision for the future. The best days of this historic institution are yet to come.”

    Before attending a reception in the Krannert lobby, White left the audience with a simple reflection.

    “Our distinguished past inspires,” he said. “A brilliant future beckons. Together I know we will create it.”

    Josh Birnbaum The Daily Illini

    The University of Illinois’ 16th President B. Joseph White waves to the crowd and smiles after making his inaugural address at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday afternoon.

    Nick Kohout The Daily Illini

    Former University Presidents Emeritus James Stukel (left) and Stanley Ikenberry (right) place the Presidential Medallion on President White during his inauguration at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday afternoon.

    Josh Birnbaum The Daily Illini

    The Marching Illini and Illinois cheerleaders lead a procession to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday afternoon to see the inauguration of the University of Illinois’ 16th President, B. Joseph White.

    Nick Kohout The Daily Illini

    Conductor Donald Schleichler leads the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the University of Illinois Combined Choirs in a rendition of “America The Beautiful” during the presidential inauguration at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday afternoon.

    Nick Kohout The Daily Illini

    Professor Barrington Coleman (left) performs “I Wanna Be Ready” with the backing of the University of Ilinois Combined Choirs during President White’s inauguration on Thursday afternoon at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.