If you don’t know about what’s happening this week, it probably means you haven’t visited the school’s Web site, walked the halls, or used a campus restroom for a couple of weeks now. We will be celebrating the inauguration of the eminent Matthew S. Holland as the newest president of UVU.
Why we are celebrating the inauguration of a new president any more than we would celebrate the hiring of a new Taco Bell district manager is one issue, and why we should do so for five days is quite another issue. But before we get to all that let me first tell you exactly what an inauguration is supposed to be.
An inauguration is the formal and official installment or consecration of a being into an office of some kind. It is the moment in which a process endows a certain individual with some kind of power.
You might ask yourself, given the above meaning, why are we now holding a ceremony to inaugurate Holland when he has in fact been formally, and officially, in office for several months now.
The short answer is that he took over in the summertime, and what’s the point of celebrating when no one is around to celebrate? As a matter of fact, it is often the case that university presidents are “inaugurated” some time after they officially take on the duties of the office.
So there is nothing out of the ordinary in that regard, though we should keep in mind that “inauguration” must be interpreted loosely — he is already the president and these five days of fun will in no way make Holland any more the president than he already is.
Further, typically the “celebration” and “festivities” surrounding such an event do not at all last an entire school week. They rarely top two days and are often only a single ceremony. In other words, even the most prestigious universities are spending less time going ape over their new presidents than we are.
This entire week seems self-indulgent and immature. I say this not out of ire for Holland, but out of concern for the image of our school. It might be that the fund-raising aspects of the week, like the ball and the gala, will be of some value financially. But this comes at an expense.
Usurping the activity agenda of the campus for a week in order to make it obvious what you already are is the vain kind of thing a child might do to get his father’s
attention. It does not make us look important, formal or big time. It makes us look like we’re playing dress-up.
Before I leave you to contemplate this week and what it means, I’ll direct you to the Latin origins of “inaugurate,” which will perhaps shed some light.
The word derives from an “augur.” An augur is a diviner or a seer who watches birds or casts stones in order to hear the will of the gods. In other words, to inaugurate means to install a prophet.
I’ll leave it at that.