Westminster College Presidential Inauguration to be Historic Affair

The historic inauguration of Dr. Benjamin Ola Akande as the 21st President of Westminster College will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 31, in Champ Auditorium on the 164-year-old campus. The event is to include family, Washington University officials, and envoy from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is free and open to the public. Harold “Hal” Oakley, of Quincy, IL, chair of the Westminster Board of Trustees, will preside over the ceremony. The public also is invited to enjoy a festive luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday in the Backer Dining Room of Mueller Leadership Hall prior to the Installation Ceremony.

In addition to being the first African-American president of Westminster College, Dr. Akande also is the first Nigerian-born president of an American liberal arts college.

During the ceremonies, former Nigerian Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, now the Executive Governor of Oyo State in southwest Nigeria, will deliver remarks on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He will be among various guests, including Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, who will present “Reflections on Leadership in Higher Education,” and William H. Danforth, Chancellor Emeritus of Washington University, current Chairman of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO, and Chair of the BioStL Coalition.

In addition to students, faculty, and alumni, the inauguration also will be attended by Dr. Akande’s parents, the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. S.T. Ola Akande, of Ibadan, Nigeria, the capital of Oyo State and Nigeria’s third most populous city after Lagos and Kano.

Following his installation, Moyosola Akande, the eldest daughter of Dr. and Bola Akande, will introduce her father to the community. Dr. Akande’s sister, Fola Akande-Okediji, and daughter, Anjola Akande, will perform with The Churchill Singers.

“Dr. Akande’s inauguration will be a very special ceremony that reflects our college’s global diversity, our international leadership, and the continuation of our educational excellence,” Oakley said. “We’re looking forward to a very exciting Inauguration week.”

During the Inaugural ceremony:

  • The Invocation will be provided by Westminster Chaplain Jamie Haskins;
  • Governor Ajimobi will deliver remarks on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
  • Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton will deliver a presentation titled Reflections on Leadership in Higher Education;
  • Greetings will be delivered by Oakley on behalf of the Board of Trustees; by Molly Dwyer, President of the Student Government Association, on behalf of the students; by Dr. Jim McRae, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of the Faculty, on behalf of the Westminster faculty; Frank Hunter, President of the Alumni Association on behalf of alumni; and, Fulton Mayor LeRoy D. Benton on behalf of the community;
  • Akande will deliver his Inaugural remarks; and,
  • The Benediction will be delivered by the Rev. Dr. Clifford C. Cain, Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professor of Religious Studies at Westminster.

The Installation Ceremony will be preceded by an Inaugural Community Church Service at  10 a.m. at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. An Inaugural Community Celebration also will be held from 3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m. in the Backer Dining Room of the Mueller Leadership Hall. Again, the inaugural events are open to the public.

Saturday’s ceremonies cap a week of Inauguration-related campus activities, including:

  • 12 noon, Monday, Oct. 26 — A Blue Jay Spirit Celebration, Historic Gym
  • 4 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27 – Spotlight on the new First Family, Hermann Lounge
  • 12 noon, Wednesday, Oct. 28 — Diversity Dialogue Lunch & Learn, featuring Dr. Akande, Marsh/Jones Suite in Mueller Leadership Hall
  • Thursday, Oct. 29 — Wall sections are being set-up at key campus locations where members of the Westminster community can write well-wishes to Dr. Akande and his family
  • 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30 — Choir Concert, First Presbyterian Church, 718 Court Street, Fulton

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