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Siena Heights University Inaugurates New President

ADRIAN, Mich. – Delivering a message of academic boldness and expanded outreach, Sister Peg Albert, OP, Ph.D., was inaugurated as the 10th President of Siena Heights University Nov. 3.

Before a captivated audience of approximately 600 people in Lumen Ecclesiae Chapel on Siena Heights’ Adrian campus, Sister Peg, drawing on the theme “Be Bold, Think Higher,” outlined the future of the institution founded by the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1919.

“Siena Heights University inherits a bold tradition, and we must respond to our mission and vision with contemplative boldness in a world starving for the message of truth,” said Sister Peg, the first Adrian Dominican to be chosen as president since 1969. “When we combine the synergies of ‘Be Bold: Think Higher,’ we create a powerful environment where new vision and new dreams, based on the solid foundations of tradition and mission, have the potential to influence and change our world in both small and large ways.”

Sister Peg hinted in her address that new academic programs are on the horizon. She mentioned health care as one area Siena Heights is targeting.

“My hope is that we initiate programs in the health care area that will assist in the growth of Siena,” Sister Peg said in her address. “We will develop collaborative relationships with others in this venture, partnering to create a strong sense of interdependence in our proximate community.”

Sister Peg served as Executive Vice President at Barry University – another Adrian Dominican sponsored institution – in Miami Shores, Fla., before coming to Siena Heights. Drawing on her experience at Barry, she said she would like to see Siena increase its international student population, as well as boost its presence with more online courses.

However, while emphasizing Siena Heights must enlarge its influence in academic and community circles, Sister Peg also stressed remembering Siena Heights’ Catholic, Dominican heritage when moving forward.

“We have been blessed with the confluence of faith and reason and all that comes from that vital linkage,” she said of Siena’s Catholic foundation. “Siena is positioned by its heritage to be bold in its response to what Catholic higher education means in our world today.”

The ceremony itself referenced Siena’s history, from the time its founder and first president, Mother Camilla Madden, purchased an apple orchard to expand the college, to present day.

“It must be noted that the man next door did not want to sell the property because the girls from the Academy pilfered fruit from his orchard on a regular basis,” Sister Peg said. “But Mother Camilla had her sights set higher and took the bold step of having a third party purchase the land next door. Wasn’t she a woman ahead of her time!”

To help mark the occasion, a special procession attempted to include a representative of each graduating class since the school was founded as St. Joseph College. There were more than 50 class representatives – dating as far back as 1940 – who participated.

Another unique facet of the ceremony was called the “Voices of Siena.” In dramatic fashion, a cross section of students, one by one, stood above the crowd and delivered touching personal messages of their experiences at Siena Heights.

“There’s no comparison to any other school out there,” said Harold Love, commander of the Michigan State Police Adrian Post, who is a non-traditional student at Siena. “For me, Siena means success, and I am proud to call it my school, my Siena.”

Following the ceremony, an all-community reception was hosted across campus at the newly renovated Benincasa Dining Hall. The hint of snow that covered campus earlier in the day and the 40-degree temperature could not chill the occasion for those attending.

Inauguration weekend concluded Saturday evening with a gala dinner and ball in the Siena Heights Fieldhouse.


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