Austin College celebrated the inauguration of new college President Steven O’Day Friday. The ceremony welcomed students, staff and community members to campus for the investiture and installation, including an academic procession with bagpipers.
O’Day, who is the college’s 16th president, came to Austin College from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, where he held the position of vice president for strategic initiatives and secretary of the college. He is the successor to Marjorie Hass, who served the college for eight years.
In his inauguration speech, O’Day explained the continued and increasing necessity for a liberal arts education in the current work environment.
“Never in history has higher education been more valuable,” O’Day said “Never has an education in the liberal arts and sciences been more important. Because we cannot know with certainty what’s next. The world is changing. The world of work is changing rapidly.”
O’Day, who began his tenure with Austin College in November, received his bachelor’s in political science from Millersville University in Pennsylvania and a juris doctor degree from Temple University School of Law.
“I think he’s an extremely pragmatic thinker as well as a realistic one,” AC Director of Admissions for Central Texas Hank Ewert said of O’Day. “I’ve already gotten the sense that he will not be afraid to think outside the box in terms of the direction of Austin College and its role in society.”
After 10 years in a law career, O’Day began his career in higher education as a women’s soccer coach at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.
“In a future where careers will be measured not in a single job but rather multiple jobs over a lifetime, employers are looking for people who can cope with this uncertainty and fluidity,” O’Day said. “They need people who can adapt, can make connections and have a wider way of engaging with the world. They want critical thinkers, collaborators, clear communicators and creative problem solvers. These are the very values embedded in a liberal arts education.”
Ewert communicated his confidence in O’Day’s ability to help the college continue to grow and succeed.
“I’m convinced that President O’Day has both a clear understanding of the educational community at Austin College — its strengths, its traditions, its values and also an inspired sense of the next stage in the development of Austin College,” Ewert said.
Music for the ceremony was provided by the AC A Capella Choir, directed by Wayne Crannell. Students Megan Chiu and Jacob Martin also performed a strings duet. AC alumna Carmen Tafolla read a poem written especially for the inauguration.