President Laurie Carter was inaugurated as the 17th president of Shippensburg University on Friday afternoon at a ceremony in which the theme of the event reflected the university’s past, present and future.
Students, alumni, faculty, community members and Carter’s family gathered at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center to celebrate her inauguration. The event began with greetings that reflected on the strengths of SU.
Guest speakers included SU President Emeritus Anthony Ceddia and Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents Chair Craig Turner.
Ceddia said Carter’s presidency is a time for renewal, reflection and expectation. He gave a brief history of SU’s triumphs through difficulties, and said he has discussed with Carter the successes and challenges of being president.
“She exemplifies the characteristics of a good leader. She listens attentively and with empathy. For her, leadership is a collaborative process involving as many as possible,” Ceddia said.
Turner reflected on Carter’s time at Eastern Kentucky University, where she also understood that increasing student enrollment was the first step. He said Carter understands that students are the core of any university.
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney said a university must provide an opportunity for students to acquire knowledge and a lifetime love of learning, and to reach beyond what is ordinary in life.
Whitney also spoke on behalf of PASSHE Board of Governors Chair Cynthia Shapira who was unable to attend the inauguration. She addressed the redesign of the state system that is working to focus more on student needs.
“With President Carter at the helm, we are confident that Shippensburg University will thrive and build upon its strong foundation with new innovative programs that meet the evolving needs of students and employers across the commonwealth,” Whitney said.
Whitney read the oath of office to Carter, and she was presented the presidential medallion by her son, Carter Walker Robinson.
To begin her inaugural address, Carter said she is aware of the university’s challenges, but she is not daunted by them. She knows that education has the power to transform lives and prepares students for a successful career and life, which is what SU strives to do. Carter highlighted the “17 Days of Kindness” campaign that led up to her inauguration. The campaign exemplified how the university will bring change, and Carter is proud of all who are part of the Shippensburg community.
Carter also addressed the topics of enrollment, marketing, quality and communication.
She said the university is moving forward with a sense of urgency to make decisions that impact students now, and the faculty understands the sense of urgency. Enrollment has declined over the past five years, and although enrollment is a key priority, retention is also important. To combat these issues, Carter has created the division of enrollment management and student success.
“While we are taking time to imagine what Ship could look like in the future, we are still moving forward with a sense of urgency. The students who are enrolled at Ship deserve action now,” Carter said.
Along with enrollment and retention, Carter expressed the need for a greater bond with alumni and the Shippensburg community. Students are more satisfied with their university experience when they are connected with the community, according to Carter. Her inauguration was scheduled in accordance with TrailFest, which occurred on Saturday at the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail just outside of SU. Carter said she wants to make sure that Shippensburg is a vibrant community with a vibrant future.
“I am mindful that all of us, Ship students, faculty, staff, alumni and community, know that a new day is dawning at Ship,” Carter said.