Brian Casey Inaugurated as Colgate’s 17th President

Faculty, staff, alumni and students gathered in the Colgate Memorial Chapel for the inauguration of the university’s new president on Friday, September 30.

Kelsey Soderberg

Brian W. Casey was officially inaugurated as Colgate’s 17th President on Friday, September 30. The inauguration ceremony was held in the Memorial Chapel and featured over a dozen speakers, who heralded Casey’s past accomplishments and shared their excitement for his future tenure at Colgate. Community members, including faculty, staff, trustees, students and Hamilton residents alike, shared words of praise and encouragement for Casey as he begins his presidency at Colgate. The University Choir and several a capella groups also performed before an audience full of Colgate supporters. 

Following behind a bagpipe processional, the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Council, faculty members and several student leaders entered the chapel wearing full academic regalia. Casey was then presented with a key to the university by Board of Trustees Chairman Daniel Hurwitz ’86, P ’17, P ’20, while Interim Dean of the Faculty Constance Harsh gave Casey a gavel, recognizing his new position as the leader of Colgate University academics. 

Professor Peter Balakian, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, read a five stanza poem that examined a myriad of topics, including Casey’s Division I swimming career at the University of Notre Dame, the potential expansion of Hamilton’s culinary options and the hopes that Casey will “push Colgate into the America that surrounds it.” 

University Chaplain Mark Shiner represented the school’s religious life as he led the audience in prayer, and each of the university’s religious life student leaders delivered a blessing.

Student Government Association (SGA) President senior Matt Swain spoke on behalf of the entire student body to welcome Casey to campus and to acknowledge his delight in working with a president engaged in student life.

“I felt honored to be up on stage with such renowned members and friends of the Colgate community,” Swain said. “The inauguration was moving and motivational. President Casey has already built a special connection with this university, and that came across during the entirety of the ceremony.” 

Casey concluded the ceremony with hopeful anticipation of a long career at Colgate and restated the purpose of an institution of higher learning.

“The university [as an institution] knows that careful consideration and debate could lead one to a better life,” Casey said. “We longed for our better selves, and that’s why Colgate was founded and that’s why it continues.”

The inauguration ceremony was well-attended by students and alumni of all class years who returned to campus for Homecoming Weekend. While the official inauguration took place on Friday afternoon, many events celebrating Casey and the university took place all week. 

“The inauguration events over the weekend were an incredible way to celebrate and welcome President Casey into the fold of the Colgate community,” senior Alexa de Alessandrini said. “With the campus thriving, full with alumni and current students, it was awesome to see everyone come together to witness how enthusiastic and caring the new president really is.”

Senior Ryan Diew was grateful to be at Colgate during such a pivotal time and commented on the ways in which he felt the ceremony united the Colgate community.

“It was pretty amazing and surreal to witness such a significant event in our school’s history,” Diew said. “The entire event really brought a sense of community and unity to this campus, which I felt was extremely invigorating.”