‘It is time to double down’: Martin lays out vision for WU’s future at inauguration

| News Editor

Hundreds of people gathered in Brookings Quadrangle to celebrate the inauguration of Chancellor Andrew Martin, Oct. 3.

The inauguration kicked off with a procession featuring over 80 representatives from other universities as well as delegations from each college and the administration. After the procession, representatives from the Board of Trustees, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, staff and alumni all spoke, welcoming Martin to his new position.

Senior Poetry Fellow Paul Tran also presented an original inaugural poem on the theme of momentum, which was commissioned by Martin. After the reading, Chancellors Emeriti Danforth and Wrighton presented Martin with the official charter and seal of the University, formally inaugurating him as chancellor.

Christine Watridge | Student Life

Chancellor Andrew Martin looks out at the applauding crowd during the inauguration ceremony Thursday. The ceremony was followed by a series of events commemorating the day. Martin committed to increasing the University’s presence in the St. Louis community through initiatives like the “Wash. U. Pledge.”

Over the course of the ceremony, various speakers emphasized the theme of momentum, which Chancellor Martin has consistently highlighted as an important part of his personal philosophy.

“We can’t imagine a better person to lead the University at this time than Andrew Martin,” Chair of the Board of Trustees Andrew E. Newman said. “He’s bright, accomplished, compassionate, a strategic thinker with an extremely organized mind… Since his return to campus, Chancellor Martin already has developed a clear vision for the many ways in which we will build on our momentum as a community on both the Danforth and Medical campuses.”

Graduate student in cognitive psychology Marina Gross praised the reforms Martin has already made for graduate students, relating these changes to her experience as an East German citizen after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“Similarly to what East Germans experienced in the ’90s, our future here at Washington University too may bring us new changes, new initiatives and a new path forward…” Gross said. “One of the most exciting [things] to my community is the creation of the student advisory board that includes graduate students, which signals a shift in momentum. Until now, graduate students’ needs have been greatly overlooked although our community is made up of almost 6,300 [people].”

Student Union president junior Tyrin Truong emphasized the importance of addressing the needs of low income students in addition to those of graduate students.

“In the short time that I have known Chancellor Martin, I have come to have faith in our common interests and his passion for increasing equity on our campus,” Truong said. “One of his first acts as Chancellor-Elect was the implementation of startup grants which helped… level the playing field for new students. I am certain that Chancellor Martin’s leadership will support and reinforce Student Union’s goals of increasing access, equity and representation.”

Later in the ceremony, Martin followed up on these concerns, announcing a “Wash. U. Pledge” to provide free tuition to all admitted Washington University students from Missouri or Southern Illinois who are either Pell eligible or have a family income of less than $75,000.

“To increase our momentum, I believe now we must focus on talented students close to home,” Martin said. “And for those undergraduate students already enrolled at Wash. U. who would qualify, they too will benefit from this pledge beginning this fall.”

Martin also emphasized the importance of increasing Washington University’s presence in the St. Louis region in new ways.

“It is time to double down on our role and impact in St. Louis,” Martin said, “As an institution founded with the very intent to provide increased educational access at the local level. We are Washington University because of St. Louis. We are proud to be Washington University in St. Louis. And today I am calling us to be Washington University for St. Louis. I see it as our Wash. U. compact: a commitment between us and the greater St. Louis region as we work to strengthen our community partnerships and impact in S-T-L and for S-T-L.”

Martin cited income disparities, health disparities, high levels of crime, malnutrition, looming environmental concerns and limited educational opportunities as important issues that the University can work to address. In order to improve educational opportunities, he announced a new plan to open the entire Washington University curriculum to any St. Louis resident.

“In addition to our Wash. U. pledge and other financial aid, we have begun the work to enhance University College,” Martin said. “We recently announced the decision to make University College stand alone, to be even more nimble and flexible, as we seek to offer in demand programs at the flip of a switch. With an ambition to expand University College, we will begin to offer courses across our entire curriculum for anyone in St. Louis who wants a Wash. U. education.”

Alan Swimmer, chair of the Alumni Board of Governors, is confident that as a Washington University alumnus, Martin is in a unique position to guide the University down the correct path.

“For only the second time in the University’s history, a graduate is serving as the Chancellor,” Swimmer said. “As an alumnus, Chancellor Martin knows what it means to be taught and mentored by world class faculty members who are deeply invested in their students’ success. He understands that the education we received here has shaped our lives and prepared us to serve our society. And like us, he loves this University and is dedicated to ensuring that it continues to grow in quality and distinction.”

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