Danny Anderson celebrated his inauguration as 19th President of Trinity University outside with a recessional. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
Danny Anderson celebrated his inauguration as 19th President of Trinity University outside with a recessional. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

Amid the pomp and circumstance of a formal investiture ceremony, Dr. Danny J. Anderson was installed as the 19th president of Trinity University in a Friday inauguration held at Laurie Auditorium. A processional of Trinity faculty, administrators, board of trustees, students and guests in academic regalia filed into the auditorium and on to the stage preceding the formal investiture.

Anderson was presented with the symbols of the Office of President, including the presidential medal, which includes the Trinity seal on a chain of discs that bear the name and dates of office of previous presidents. and a ceremonial mace.

The synthesis of past and future resonated throughout the ceremony. The Trinity University Chamber Singers and handbell choir performed an original composition celebrating the city’s diverse cultures. “To the Mothers of Brazil” blended poetry by Carmen Tafolla with Latin and Portuguese texts and a jazz melody.

Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8), a Trinity alumnus who later served as the director  of KRTU-FM, 91.7, the jazz station located on the Trinity campus, represented the City.

“San Antonio is going through great changes,” said Nirenberg.

The councilman reiterated the importance of liberal arts education as a foundation for critical thinking and problem-solving needed to deal with the challenges of a city with a fast-growing diverse population and a range of civic and environmental challenges that will be addressed in the coming years.

Anderson, who assumed the presidency in June 2015, has often stated his commitment to Trinity’s liberal arts traditions. He told Friday’s gathering that he would like to see greater cross-disciplinary integration to better prepare students for a rapidly changing economy.

His arrival at Trinity from the University of Kansas in Lawrence was a homecoming to Texas for the Houston native, this time to a city deeply connected to his own academic background. Anderson is an award winning teacher and scholar of Mexican literature, and a past recipient of the ING Award for Teaching Excellence; a W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence; and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers.

Danny Anderson asked the audience to image that he and they were two people standing in a precipice, engaged in deep conversation during his Inaugural address. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
Danny Anderson asked the audience to image that he and they were two people standing in a precipice, engaged in deep conversation during his Inaugural address. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

Anderson lived most of his formative years in Rusk, Texas. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Austin College, and a master’s and doctorate in Spanish from the University of Kansas.

during the ceremony, alumna Leslie Hollingsworth (’88) and Trinity student representative Sean McCutchen (’16) both encouraged Anderson to keep open communication with current and former students, as he has been so far eager to do. He connected Trinity’s pioneering spirit to their continued dialogue.

Anderson painted a portrait of two people standing at a precipice, engaged in deep conversation.

“I want you to think of this day as the moment I am asking you to step into that conversation,” Anderson told members in the audience.

Anderson talked about implementing the remainder of the “Trinity Tomorrow” strategic plan, and said he feels more compelled to protect the university’s traditions than impose change.

Special events in the week leading up to the installation reminded Anderson and the Trinity community of the university’s unique place in San Antonio.

On Saturday, February 13, the campus participated in “Trinity Gives Back,” a day of community service at parks, schools, and agencies around the city. Anderson was a member of the crew taking on beatification projects at Lamar Elementary School, where the university’s education faculty introduced innovative instruction and teacher training.

Trinity University President elect, Dr. Danny Anderson tends to the garden in front of Lamar Elementary School as part of the Trinity Gives Back Volunteer Initiative. Photo by Bria Woods.
Trinity University President elect, Dr. Danny Anderson tends to the garden in front of Lamar Elementary School as part of the Trinity Gives Back Volunteer Initiative. Photo by Bria Woods.

Community service is a fundamental part of the Trinity experience. The school has been included in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past eight years, the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for such activity. At Trinity, 80% of the student body participates in community service, collectively contributing more than 100,000 hours, annually.

Much of the service takes place through the Trinity University Volunteer Action Community (TUVAC), the umbrella organization that plugs students into various programs based on their passions and callings. Trough TUVAC, Trinity deploys students to Habitat for Humanity, PAWS, Best Buddies, and many other local non-profits.

Anderson took part in another campus-wide event Thursday, one celebrating Trinity’s commitment to fostering independent thought and innovation, as well as a continued commitment to teaching and learning. The Great Trinity Experiment put students in front of the classroom to create a one-day course catalogue of subjects ranging from “Beyond Economic Incentives: How Cities Like San Antonio are Using Modern Marketing Tactics to Better Compete for Millennial Talent” to “Infinity and Beyond: A gentle introduction to advanced mathematics.”

Students, faculty, and staff registered for classes ahead of time, and then spent the afternoon following their class schedule as students delivered research and instruction from areas of personal passion.

In celebration of Trinity’s strong alumni network, the university designated the day of the investiture as worldwide Tiger Pride day. They encouraged alumni all over the world to wear maroon and post photos to social media with the hashtag #TigerPride.

Top Image: Danny Anderson celebrated his inauguration as 19th President of Trinity University outside with a recessional.  Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.