Saying it isour obligation to take our University forward, Michael S. Garrison pledged to build upon the principles on which West Virginia University was founded, and paid tribute to the many people who have helped to make the University what it is today during his inaugural address Friday (Oct. 19) in historic Woodburn Circle.

The ceremony was the highlight ofComing Homeactivities on campus that celebrated not only the inauguration, but Homecoming and Diversity Weeks.

WVU s 22nd president also promised to continue theconversationsthat launched his administration, and delivered on that message by including several moving testimonials from people whose lives were changed by WVU , a place they callhome.

It was here, where we gather today, that West Virginia University began. Here, we recognize the passing of responsibilities from one steward to the next, and to consider the responsibilities that have been passed from one generation to another.

Let us never lose SIGHT of the fact that West Virginia University is held in trust for the people of West Virginia. Each of uswe are all here to serve,said the 38-year old Fairmont, W.Va. native who earned an undergraduate degree in political science and English at WVU , and is also a graduate of its College of Law. He is the sixth alumnus to head the institution.

He told the 1,000-plus crowd that WVU remainsa unifying forcebecause its values have not changed over its 140-year history.

What is it that creates such pride, such a sense of belonging? First and foremost, it is because of the people who have gone forth from this campusbecause of who they are, because of how they lead their lives, and because of what they contribute to their communities. Everywhere you look in this in this country and in this world, Mountaineers are making a difference.

Garrison gave special tribute to the faculty for helping him and others get to where they are today.

The men and women of this faculty who taught me, challenged me, encouraged me, and believed in meyou made it possible for me to do more with my life. You gave me the tools to succeed. You gave me the opportunity to grow. Thank you.

He vowed to move the University forward in its land-grant mission areas, especially that of research, saying:it is here where our potential for advancement may be the greatest, with WVU home to many nationally and world-renown scientists.

We are positioned for true greatness as a research university. We look forward to partnering with the state of West Virginiaas other states partner with their research universitiesto develop a system of support that maximizes private investment, rewards discovery, and contributes to the growth of science-based economic enterprises,he said.

He spoke highly of those who each day fulfill the Universitys mission of public servicefrom providing health care to children and adults, to driving economic and social development, to educating people in their own homes.

This University and this state owe each of you who brings your talents, your energy, and your dedication to the important work that we do. The pride that we take in our work is not just based upon what we do as individuals, but what our work supports, and what our contributions allow others to accomplish.

Since being named president, Garrison said he has talked with thousands of people, and throughout these conversations, he hasheard the voices of the University.

Overwhelmingly, these voices return to our essential principles: That we will be a university that changes lives for the better; a university that promotes the growth of knowledge; and a university that serves the people of West VirginiaThe voices of this University are strong. They are wise, some wise beyond their years. And they must be heard.

To illustrate, 10 individualsfrom alumnus and head basketball coach Bob Huggins to first generation student Vivian Lamalent theirvoicesto Garrisons inaugural address.

Here I amback where I started, a Mountaineer in my bones now coaching the young men in gold and blue. Its good to be home,Huggins said.

Lama, from Miami, Fla., said she carried the hopes and dreams of her family with her to WVU and they followed in her footsteps. Her mother and stepfather graduated from WVU and her younger brother is now a sophomore.My family sent me here to get an education, but what we really found here was a home,she said.

Looking ahead, Garrison said WVU is not without its challenges, including greater fiscal autonomy. But he encouraged the University community to approach each challenge as an opportunity.

Mountaineers are a people of spirit. We are energetic. We are motivated. We dont fear challenges. And we are willing to create our own opportunities when others may simply give up,he said.This University reflects and amplifies what is best about this state. We draw upon its values. We are inspired by its history. We are creating its future. West Virginia Universitythese is no challenge too great for us.

While understanding that universities are places of study and contemplation, Garrison pledged to work in a decisive and determined manner when addressing issues the University faces.

In closing, Garrison, a former student body president, directed his remarks to students.

You are the heart and soul of this University,he said.Never underestimate the power of your ideas. Never misjudge the power you hold to shape your own futures and the future of this institution. Students of this generation, you will leave a legacy here. Sooner than you imagine, you will determine what that legacy will be.

Imagine the world you want to live inas an alumnus, perhaps as a parent, and definitely as a leaderbecause you will be a leader. Imaginethen take a step in that direction.

Fridays inaugural procession began with 22 tolls of the bell from the USS West Virginia to signify the 22nd leader of the institution. From across the street, University marshals led a stream of WVU student representatives, faculty members, deans, senior management team members, representatives from visiting institutions and special guests to Woodburn Circle.

Two former WVU presidents also marchedDavid C. Hardesty Jr., WVU s 21st president, and Neil S. Bucklew, WVU s 20th president.

Also in attendance were Garrisons wife, Heather Malone Garrison; the couples two daughters, Julia Grace and Gabriella Malone; and other family members and friends.

Stephen P. Goodwin, chairman of the WVU Board of Governors, presided at the inauguration and gave the welcome.

WVU Student Government Association President David Kirkpatrick, Staff Council President Terry Nebel, Faculty Senate Chair-Elect Virginia Kleist, Alumni Board of Directors Chairman Doug Van Scoy, Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice, Braxton County School Superintendent Carolyn Long (representing West Virginia Public Education) and Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Brian Noland brought greetings on behalf of their constituents. Also attending were Senator Jay Rockefeller, Congressman Alan B. Mollohan and Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito.

WVU English professor and coordinator of creative writing Jim Harms read a poem, capping aComing Homepoetry contest in which over 100 entered.

Gov. Joe Manchin III formally installed Garrison as president.

WVU First Lady Heather Garrison, Gov. Manchin, Chairman Goodwin and WVU Faculty Senate Chairman Steven Kite presented Garrison with the presidential medallion.

The inaugural ceremony concluded with a surprise appearance by the award-winning WVU Marching Band, affectionately known asThe Pride of West Virginia.Band members marched into Woodburn Circle from behind Woodburn Hall, playing one of the University fight songs. President and Mrs. Garrison then greeted guests on the plaza of the Mountainlair.

Processional music was provided by the WVU Wind Symphony under the direction of John Hendricks.

The University Choir, under the direction of Kathleen Shannon, performedMy Home Among the Hillsand the WVU Alma Mater.

Upshur County Extension agent Craig Presar served as the lone bagpiper.

A ceremonial salute to Garrison was given by U.S. Army Capt. Lee Ann Campbell, a 2001 graduate of WVU who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Members of the WVU ROTC Color Guard presented and retired the colors.

The invocation was offered by Rev. Junius Lewis, Greater Love Family Outreach Ministries; Father John Rice, St. John University Parish; and Rabbi David Feder, Tree of Life Congregation.

View full text of Mike’s speech at