The Inauguration of Kenneth Winston Starr:
14th President of Baylor University
The PicnicIn contrast to the pomp of traditional inauguration events, students gathered on campus days prior to kick-off inauguration week with a late summer picnic.
A massive line of students formed outside the Bill Daniel Student Center September 15 to enjoy a free barbecue dinner. Skipping "Grace," they instead joined President Starr in a boisterous "Sic 'em Bears!" cheer prior to the meal.
Later, Starr was treated to student performances, including a "Step" (a synchronized rhythmic stomping, clapping dance routine) performed by members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Junior Jasmine Nkrumah, of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, participated in the Step and said it only took a week to plan and rehearse the impressive routine. Starr enthusiastically rushed over to greet the students as they exited the stage.
"He came over and introduced himself, and he said ‘that was awesome' and ‘thank you,'" Jasmine recounted.
Her first impression of the new president? "He's really nice."
Following the performances, Starr took the stage to announce The President's Scholarship Initiative. He talked about continuing Baylor's tradition of giving back and encouraged students to spread news of the initiative "virally."
The InitiativeThe President's Scholarship Initiative calls upon the Baylor Nation to respond by giving--as each is able--to support Baylor students.
"The cost of higher education has not passed Baylor University by," Judge Starr said in a press conference September 15.
While more than 80 percent of Baylor students receive some form of financial assistance and Baylor is ranked a "best buy" by numerous college guides, the cost of higher education continues to rise across the nation.
"The President's Scholarship Initiative really cannot go forward unless our alumni and our friends and parents--around the country and around the world--support these wonderful 14,000 students now here and the many thousands to come," Starr said. "We ask you to come alongside them and help them."
The SymposiumMarking Constitution Day and honoring Starr's illustrious legal background, the first installment of the Presidential Symposium Series, "The Role of The Supreme Court in American Society," took place September 17.
A renowned panel of former and current state and federal justices sat alongside the President as they discussed the United States judicial system.
The panel included Starr; Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge and Baylor alumna Jennifer Elrod; Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson; former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice and Baylor alumnus Thomas R. Phillips; and Stuart Taylor, Contributing Editor for Newsweek magazine and Nonresident Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.
After opening statements, the panel fielded questions from the audience on topics ranging from the confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court Justices to Constitutional interpretation of the law.
The audience enjoyed a light moment when Judge Elrod compared her stature to that of the federal court system.
"I'm the smallest person on this stage. As you can see, I'm the only one whose feet do not reach the ground." With feet dangling and the crowd chuckling, she made her point: "We (federal courts) are dwarfed by the state system. And that's as it should be."
Symposium break-out sessions discussing the hot topics of gun control and immigration were held on campus following the panel discussion.
The CeremonyA crowd of Baylor faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and honored guests from local, government and academic communities gathered in Baylor's Ferrell Center September 17 for Ken Starr's Installation as President of Baylor University.
Displaying some of academia's richest traditions, the event celebrated Baylor's great history and promising future.
"The Board of Regents has chosen you to lead our University in the twenty-first century," Chairman of the Baylor University Board of Regents Dary Stone said in his Charge to the President. "You have the privilege and responsibility of leading a great institution with a proud heritage and an exciting future."
Baylor's Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and Combined Choirs showcased their finest works throughout the ceremony, while individuals representing various aspects of the Baylor and Waco communities offered welcoming statements to Starr.
Bringing the Inaugural Address, Stephen L. Carter spoke to "The Future of Democratic Debate." Carter is The William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a bestselling author. Longtime friends, Carter said of Starr: "He is the very model of civility in all his dealings."
In his Inaugural Response, Starr discussed the role of religion in higher education. He praised Baylor's academic achievements, research initiatives and collaborative atmosphere as well as the University's unique mission and "holistic" approach to caring for students.
"We celebrate today this living heritage of Texas' oldest continuing institution of higher learning," Starr said. "By God's grace, it has grown, it has prospered. But its mission has never changed. Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana: For the church, and for Texas. We reaffirm that mission today."
Starr concluded his remarks by reaffirming his call to the Baylor Nation: a call to support students through scholarships.
"As a moral imperative, we must address the fundamental question of the rapidly escalating cost of higher education," he said. "This is our highest priority in the decade now unfolding."