Guests React to Inauguration Ceremony with Great Pride at Reception
After the inauguration ceremony, the heavy rain came—a sign of good luck for the new Stevens president, some said. Guests hurried under umbrellas to the Babbio Center atrium, where several hundred people greeted Dr. Farvardin and his family at a reception.
The mood was joyful and optimistic, even giddy, as Dr. Farvardin greeted guest after guest who waited to speak with him and shake his hand.
Guests called the inauguration ceremony a “first-class event” and praised everything, from the magically transformed Schaefer Gym to the Stevens Inauguration Orchestra and Stevens Choir to Dr. Farvardin’s speech.
Stevens Trustee Rick Roscitt ’73 and his wife seemed simply dazzled by the historic day. “It was the most inspiring event I’ve been to in a long time,” Mr. Roscitt said. “I thought Dr. Farvardin’s speech was extremely well done and very rich in content.” It was a speech that he planned to further absorb and ponder.
Another striking fact about the day was how so many people from different walks of life—Dr. Farvardin’s friends and colleagues from far away, in particular—came out for him.
“They didn’t need to come,” Roscitt said. “It shows the character of the man.”
Mrs. Roscitt found herself watching Dr. Farvardin’s mother and father during the inauguration ceremony. “You could see the pride in his parents’ faces,” she said. “His father looked as if he struggled between tears and wanting to stand up and cheer. His face spoke a thousand words.”
Dr. Edward Friedman, emeritus professor of technology management, joined Stevens in 1963 and has seen many changes. This day, he said, he felt hopeful and inspired after this “splendid event.”
“He’s my fourth president,” Friedman said of Dr. Farvardin. “This has really been inspiring for me. I feel like I want to be here another 48 years.”
For Friedman, the “totality” of the experience and Dr. Farvardin’s vision for Stevens that he articulated through his speech were most memorable. “I was very moved, I have been deeply concerned about the direction this country is taking” and how it does not value the important role science and technology must play to keep the country competitive. But Farvardin gets it, and he gets why the Occupy Wall Street protesters are marching.” Friedman continued, “This man is paying attention to it, he communicated what needs to be done in this country and he wants Stevens to play a role in it. That, to me, was inspirational.”
Alan Drozd ’06 has made very few trips back to campus since he graduated, except to see his girlfriend, Ph.D. student Mary Schurgot ’06. But for this inauguration day, he was inspired to come back to Stevens and even took the day off from work.“I kind of got back into being an alumnus. I realize that this was a big part of my life and I want to be involved,” said Drozd. “We’ve only had seven presidents. It’s not an everyday thing that happens.”
He praised Dr. Farvardin for being understated, down-to-earth and for having an easy connection with people. Schurgot echoed his enthusiasm.
“As an electrical engineer (like Farvadin), I’m personally very excited to have him as a leader for our institute. It sounds like he has great things to offer with his technical ability and leadership,” she said.
Katie Castroagudin was among an army of student volunteers who helped with inauguration day, from greeting guests to whisking them around campus in golf carts. The day was so busy. But once the inauguration ceremony started, when she got to sit down and hear Dr. Farvardin share some of his personal story and his plans for Stevens, she really understood the day’s significance.
“When Dr. Farvardin spoke, the whole day made sense,” Castroagudin said. “I feel it’s a really good thing for Stevens, to see everyone in the same room celebrating. I love it when people say that it’s a close-knit community. It is.”
Frank Roberto ’76, accompanied by his wife, was in from Texas recruiting on campus for ExxonMobil and also visiting his son, Frank, a freshman at Stevens. He called the inauguration ceremony “absolutely fantastic” and Dr. Farvardin’s speech inspiring.
Roberto was particularly moved when Dr. Farvardin recalled Davidson Lab’s important research role in the fight to win World War II.“I think that the university is being called in again” Roberto said, to meet new global challenges. “It makes you very proud to be part of this institute.”
Stevens Professor Susan Levin found the inauguration experience “uplifting, energizing and exciting.”
“I’m just thrilled to have a president who sounds like he’s really into academic excellence and will help us pursue that,” she said. “I love the emphasis on academic pomp and circumstance. The whole event spoke of what we are as an academic institution.”
Stevens Industry Professor Ed Blicharz, like several other guests interviewed, praised the student speaker at the inauguration and has high hopes for Stevens under Dr. Farvardin. “I think everyone’s excited. They’re looking forward to new leadership, they’re looking for change. We’ve had some bad times. We’re looking for a new beginning.”
Enthusiasm among students attending the reception was obvious. Student volunteer Larry Giannechini may have been among the most enthusiastic. “President Farvardin gave one of the best speeches I have ever heard,” he said. “The student support behind this (event) is really strong.”
Giannechini and other students interviewed said that they see a new excitement and engagement among students this fall. Many more freshmen have applied to serve on the Stevens Honor Board, for example, than in years past. They attribute much of this to the promise Dr. Farvardin brings.
“You want to go out and do something,” said graduate student Amanda Nauman ’11.
“He was inspiring,” Giannechini said of Farvardin. “All of my friends volunteered for today. Some people I never thought would care were watching the ceremony.”