By Carol P. Bartold
Oct. 26, 2016: Concordia College-New York celebrated the inauguration of The Reverend Dr. John Nunes as its ninth president on Saturday, October 22, at the college's Sommer Center for Worship and the Performing Arts.
Witnessed by a supportive gathering of colleagues, dignitaries, students, faculty, staff, alumni, family, and local supporters, Nunes took the oath of office administered by Scott Wittman, president of the Board of Regents.
In the oath, Nunes vowed, as president, to faithfully execute his duties, support the teaching and learning of the students, act as a lawful and just authority of the college, uphold its traditions and forge new paths, and lead wisely and judiciously.
Prior to taking the oath, Nunes received four symbols of the Office of the Presidency of Concordia College. Paige Corkins, president of the student government association, presented the academic hood, which represents the president's vocation to support the teaching and learning of the students of the college.
Dr. Mandana Nakhai, vice provost of undergraduate education and professor of English, handed the mace to Nunes as the symbol of the authority to lead the faculty and staff in reaching the college’s educational goals.
Dr. Dean Wenthe, president of Concordia University System, offered the Concordia College charter as the representation of the college's origins, history, and "our future that calls on us to bring the traditions of Christian liberal arts education to the world."
Scott Wittman presented the presidential medallion as the symbol of the president’s official custody of the seal of the college and the authority to use it wisely and judiciously.
For his inaugural address, "We Convince by Our Presence," Nunes found inspiration in a line of Walt Whitman's poem Song of the Open Road. Nunes stated, "In a world where words have been so gutted of meaning that what we hear can hardly be trusted … we do not convince by arguments but first by showing up authentically and in the lives of students and colleagues."
Nunes emphasized that Concordia College must stand on the foundation of a faith-based, ethics-infused education that addresses the questions in life that plague people the most: Why are we here? Who are our neighbors? What matters the most in life?
"I believe that Concordia is perfectly positioned to respond to these critical questions," he said. He pointed to the college's tradition of diversity as a profound strength in responding to life's critical questions. In emphasizing diversity, he said, "We live it, breathe it, embrace it, and be it daily for one another, convincing by our presence."
Offering greetings from the wider educational community were the Reverend Dr. Patrick Ferry, president of Concordia College Wisconsin; Dr. Thomas Cedel, distinguished visiting professor of leadership, Valparaiso University, Indiana; Mr. Randal Gast, executive director, Martin Luther School, Queens; and Dr. Kirk Farney, vice president for advancement, vocation, and alumni engagement, Wheaton College, Illinois.
Gianni Llano, an education student at Concordia College, Dr. Kate Behr, professor of English and director of the Fellows Program at Concordia College-New York, and Mrs. Mimi Blanco, 3rd-grade teacher, The Chapel School, brought local greetings to Dr. Nunes.
The festivities featured music by the student group Concordia College-New York GospelKnights, as well as solo performances by Monique Nunes, the new first lady of Concordia College. Deacon Valerie Webdell and Dr. Jason Thoms, dean of arts and sciences, performed Webdell’s composition "I Am About to Do a New Thing," commissioned by Dr. Nunes for his inauguration and installation.
Pictured here: Photos of President Nunes at his inauguration on October 22.
Photos courtesy Concordia College