President Sherilyn Emberton was officially inaugurated as the university’s 13th president in an inauguration ceremony Oct. 4 in the Zurcher Auditorium in the Merillat Center for the Arts.
Emberton was commissioned by the student body Thursday evening.
Arthur Wilson, campus pastor, began Friday’s service by announcing the processional of faculty and delegates. Sophomore Luke McConnell, student body president, led the attendees in prayer.
Brooks L. Fetters, mayor of the city of Huntington, and Marila D. Palmer, Ph.D., associate provost of Texas A&M Univeristy-Commerce spoke. Palmer has known Emberton since 1999.
“She finds genuine joy in each students’ success because she knows they will grow as student-leaders themselves,” Palmer said. “Students love her.”
Edward O. Blews Jr., president of the Council for Christian Councils and Universities also gave a speech, calling Emberton’s presidency at the university “a match made in heaven.”
“I want to assure you that when President Emberton speaks, all of us in Christian higher education will be listening,” he said.
James E. Banks, senator for the Indiana state senate, and Connie W. Lawson, Indiana secretary of state, spoke. Mike Pence, Indiana governor, could not attend the event. Both welcomed Emberton to the state.
“The Lone Star State’s loss is our gain,” Lawson said. “I know you will continue the tradition of excellence and God-honoring service. Welcome to our great state.”
Kelly Savage, chair of the board of trustees, read Marlin A. Stutzman’s, representative in the United States House of Representatives, speech because he could also not attend the service.
After a hymn, led by sophomore Ja’Shon Burks, four past bishops of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and the current bishop, Rev. W. Phillip Whipple, layed their hands on Emberton and prayed for her.
Charges then went out to the institution, students and faculty and the president.
“As an institution, you need to partner with your new president and not make her carry the full load,” Alvin Austin, Ph. D., president emeritus of LeTourneau University, said. “”You are a key partner in her success as a leader. She will open new doors for you, but you must walk through those doors with her.”
Former president Eugene B. Habecker, Ph.D., and G. Blair Dowden, Ed.D., gave the presidential charge.
“Focus on what God has called you to do here, not on what is needed to be done,” Habecker said. “Never stop loving the people you serve. A leader’s job is to absorb the chaos, give back calm and provide hope.”
Dowden said higher education “requires bold leadership.”
“I am very grateful that God chose someone with outstanding credentials and, yes, winsome style, to lead Huntington University as our 13th president,” he said.
Following these charges, Savage and Nancy Hull, secretary of the board of trustees, conducted the installation of Emberton.
“You have been chosen by the Huntington University’s board of trustees, acting upon our faith in God and his direction, the position you assume, the head of authority as university president, is worthy of respect and loyalty,” Savage said. “It is with great confidence that the Lord is working at Huntington University and in the abilities … that he has bestowed upon you that in the power invested in me, as the chair of Huntington University’s board of trustees, I hereby install you as the 13th president of Huntington University.”
Emberton, in celebration, raised both fists after Savage and Hull placed the presidential medallion around her neck.
“I am truly blessed beyond, beyond measure,” Emberton said, in tears. “We are a blessed people doing amazing work in an anointed place for such a time as this.”
The service closed with a singing of the Alma Mater, led by Burks and a benediction, led by Luke Fetters, chair of the faculty concerns committee.
Emberton said the ceremony was “amazing.”
“I was so pleased,” she said. “It will be my job now to build on the momentum coming out of the inauguration to move this forward.”
Read more about Emberton’s presidency here.