Charles Patterson was inaugurated as the 18th president of Shippensburg University on Oct. 27.
The inauguration ceremony, held in the Luhrs Performing Arts Center, punctuated a week of celebrations and campus activities. Shippensburg University students, faculty and distinguished community guests were among those in attendance.
Patterson previously held positions at Baylor University, Georgia Southern University, Georgia Southwestern State University and Mansfield University. He began his career at SU as the interim president on June 30, 2021, and was appointed on May 6 this year.
The ceremony began with Shippensburg University Community Orchestra’s performance of “Hornpipe.” Doug Harbach, a member of the Council of Trustees, presided over the inauguration.
Shippensburg University ROTC provided the presentation of colors and the university’s concert choir sang the national anthem. The Rev. Jan Bye, who recently retired as SU’s United Campus Minister, delivered the invocation.
Council of Trustees Vice Chair Antoinette Marchowsky gave the welcome address and 12 additional people provided greetings.
President Emeritus Anthony F. Ceddia was featured as a guest speaker. Ceddia is the longest-serving president in the university’s history with a 24-year term.
In his speech, Ceddia told the stories of Shippensburg University alumni Jeanne Shaheen, Dean Koontz and Rob Davis.
Shaheen is a United States senior senator in New Hampshire and has held the office for 13 years. She previously served as the state’s governor from 1997 to 2003. Koontz is a novelist whose books have topped The New York Times’ Best Seller list 30 times. Davis is a former NFL player of the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, and he is the current assistant head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
“We are the place where magic happens,” Ceddia said. “We have come to love this university because of the way it nurtures aspirational behavior among our students.”
Ceddia also praised Patterson’s character and work ethic.
“His background is full of success, but more importantly, he is a good man. He loves what he does. He is committed to this institution.”
“It’s not about him,” Ceddia said. “It is about this place we call Ship. There could be no stronger testimony than that, and if he lives it … this place will be better for it.”
Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith also spoke. He was the commander of the 83rd Chemical Battalion and the 3rd Chemical Brigade. Smith served in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Smith was the inspector general of the United States Army until he retired in 2021.
Smith serves as the vice president for Leadership and Education for the Association of the U.S. Army and the W.E. Carter Chair of Leadership at Georgia State University’s College of Business.
Smith described Patterson as “a leader, an educator, a mentor, a friend.”
“His knowledge, his skills and his abilities,” Smith said, “have placed him in the place where he needs to be right now today: leading and developing Shippensburg University.”
Dr. Dan Greenstein delivered the Investiture, followed by Dr. Cynthia Shapira’s administering of the Oath of Office. Greenstein is the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) chancellor, and Shapira is the board chair of the organization’s Board of Governors.
Andrew Alosi presented the chain of office and Diane McNichols administered the mace presentation.
Patterson’s 35-minute address began with remarks about his understanding of the president’s duties.
“My personal feelings about an inauguration ceremony are far outweighed by what a presidential inauguration means to a university and our surrounding community,” Patterson said. “It is about recognizing people, place and mission. That’s what makes Ship special.”
Patterson also expressed his gratitude for his wife Colleen for her campus involvements.
“Both Colleen and I have embraced our role on campus and in our Ship community. She was instrumental in bringing back the Shippensburg Homecoming Parade after a 12-year absence,” Patterson said.
His expectations for the university involve a commitment to academic and professional excellence. Adherence to his vision, he claims, will yield positive results.
“We know that the success of our students and the success of our faculty translate into institutional prominence, national recognition and a supportive campus climate and fulfillment of our institutional mission.”
“I want to thank you again for entrusting me with this chance to serve as Ship’s president,” Patterson said to conclude his speech. “I stand in front of you with the same open heart I had when I first accepted the interim presidency with a deep commitment to continue to lead with an open heart.”