It’s not often that Adelphi elects a new president. In the 150 years that it has been established, there have only been 10 presidents. Not only did we have the honor to witness this infrequent occurance, but we got to personally welcome Adelphi’s first woman president. In 2016, it is not only refreshing but imperative that women finally feel represented. Adelphi’s tenth president has made it clear that it’s not only time for women, but all minorities to feel valued. As she leads with this philosophy, we were more than excited to embrace Dr. Christine Riordan at her inauguration.
Dr. Christine Riordan
This incredible event began with Professor Geddes announcing the entrances of our faculty. Current professors, alumni, university officers, and the Board of Trustees were all given a well-deserved, respected welcome. She also announced the presidents of other universities who came to support. She even paid homage to the eight schols of Adelphi. Lastly she introduced President Scott in his last minutes of serving Adelphi. After respects were paid, music majors Alyssa, Ani, Sabatina, and Juliana sang a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, and alumni Father Magaldi offered the Invocation, the stage was properly set to honor our president-to-be.
The first to speak was a member of the Board of Trustees and Co-Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, Gerry House. She spoke on the selection process and why Dr. Christine Riordan stood out to the committee. In her speech she stated, “Adelphi is a thriving community of learning, but it is also an institution that requires effective financial and organizational management to succeed. In Dr. Riordan, we found a leader with the business experience and expertise to serve as an outstanding steward of our great university.” She expressed how she and the committee were excited by these aspects.
Dr. Riordan’s dear friends came up to offer personal tributes. It was endearing to see Riordan’s support system so proud of her in this important moment of her life. The first friend who spoke was Anne E. McCall. She serves as a dean in the University of Binghamton. She spoke highly of the time she worked alongside Riordan as a dean at the University of Denver and how Riordan stepped up as the leader dean that the group needed. Seeing Riordan in the position and knowing her closely as a friend, McCall knew that Riordan will be perfect in this presidential position. McCall quoted one of Riordan’s phrases, “‘I don’t do mediocre,'” after listing all of Riordan’s accomplishments of graduating engineering school, receiving an MBA, and receiving a PhD. She described Riordan as trustworthy, forthright, and honest- a woman with integrity. The faith that McCall has in her dear friend is endless.
The second friend who spoke was Rahmat Shoureshi. He works as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at NYIT. He described working alongside Riordan at the University of Denver and noticed her passion, ability to collaborate, understanding of the higher education system, and innovative leadership. He shared the same experience that Gerry House had on his search committee. He was on the search committee for the dean of University of Denver’s School of Business. After reviewing Riordan’s candidancy, he wanted to end the search right there, overwhelmingly impressed with Riordan’s credentials. He gave more reassurance that Riordan is the leader that Adelphi needs.
The last to speak before Riordan’s big moment was New York Senator Charles Schumer. He gave Dr. Riordan his best wishes in the tough work she has ahead of her and was glad he could be here for this significant moment.
Then it was time for the big moment. Dr. Christine Riordan stepped up to the podium and was given the Symbols of Office (the University seal and hood) by her family members. They stood center stage and stood as a family supporting Christine in this moment. She then went on to make her inaugural speech. … I had the opportunity to speak to the recently sworn in president and she had even more inspiring words to say. I asked her to explain her passion for education, and she responded,”I think at the end of the day what inspires me is helping other people succeed. I became a professor for a reason and it really was about the students. All of the rules that I’ve had have really focused on how I can continue to help students as well as help the faculty develop programs and to help that university be successful. The thing that inspires me is you guys.” She then gave me words of advice for women striving for success: “I always say just be authentic to who you are. Always keep trying. I think the thing that probably serve me best is having a lot of resilience. We all make mistakes. We all have failures. We all kind of get knocked down and there’s always tomorrow to try again. So always keep going at it and going after your dreams and your goals, and you’ll get there.” After speaking with her, I realized she was an inspiring woman on and off the podium who genuinely wants to work with us to make our school a better place.
The ceremony ended with members of Best of Broadway singing Seasons of Love from Rent composed by alumni Jonathan Larson. Their moving rendition had people in tears.
Alongside Dr. Christine Riordan, I also spoke with Board of Trustee officer Robert Willumstad as well as students Malik and Dilaria. When I spoke with Willumstad about why the committee gravitated towards Riordan, he stated, “We were really looking for somebody who would recognize that the future higher education is likely to be different than it has been in the past. So many other people we interviewed were really proud of the historical roots of higher education, but when you think about the changing demographic the students in the future are going to be different than in the past.” He assured the Adelphi community that the search committee saw Dr. Christine Riordan as the best all-around candidate for the job as she strives to make the world of higher education more accessible for everyone and keep up with the evolving times.
Malik, head of the Student Government Association told me how excited he is to be working with the president firsthand: “She’s a huge visionary. I meet with her monthly, and every time I speak with her she has something new on the radar. I think you can see from the few months that she’s been here changes to the C store and changes to the school spirit. We have the Adelphi flag up now. Changes like that show us that we’re going in the right direction.” When asked about the improvements he would like to see from Riordan, he spoke about her efforts in being inclusive towards all demographics: “In the years prior I feel like that’s something that I really haven’t touched upon, but she’s going right out there and saying that Adelphi is progressive and we are going to do the right thing with diversity and kids that are underserved. That’s something I appreciate a lot because everyone needs an advocate and not just with race but people that are disabled and every form of diversity.”
Dilaria was equally excited about Riordan’s leadership. She explained her role as a student representitive in the Presidential Search Committee: “We felt really included. We felt that everyone wanted to hear our opinion because Adelphi really wants to focus on the student voice, and we think that the student voice really does count because the president would be leading an institution that has nearly 5,000 students. So it’s important that we were able to be that voice.” She then spoke on the qualities that the committee was looking for in a new president: “We were looking for a leader. Someone who could embody the same values as president Scott did to continue his legacy. He did such a great job coming to Adelphi and caring enough to make it the great university that it is today. So we wanted someone who would respect that history and could come in and offer a new perspective, ideas, and strategies to take Adelphi to new levels.”
All in all, we are more than excited to have Dr. Christine Riordan as our 10th president (and 1st female president) at Adelphi!