Walker installed as 18th president of Edinboro University

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 at 9:20 PM
Walker installed as 18th president of Edinboro University by Dakota Palmer
Photo: Anna Ashcraft

“Rewriting the DNA of the institution is our historic opportunity. We cannot, we will not stand by and wait for others to write the story of Edinboro University in the 21st century. This is our moment in history.”

These words were part of the inaugural address given by Edinboro University President Dr. H. Fred Walker. The theme of the inauguration, “Tradition and Transformation,” had Walker also touching on hope, optimism and opportunity for the future of the university. On March 23 in the Louis C. Cole Auditorium, Walker was officially installed as the university’s 18th president in a ceremony that lasted approximately 90 minutes.

Walker began as the university president on July 1, 2016, succeeding interim president, Dr. David Werner. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and a master of business administration from California State University- Fresno. He also holds a master of engineering in industrial and systems engineering and a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial education and technology, both earned from Iowa State University.

He worked in avionics in the Navy for nine years, and worked in the United States, Asia, Africa and Australia. He was honorably discharged in 1992.

Walker was formerly an assistant professor at the University of Southern Maine. Most recently, he served as dean of the college of applied Science and Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The ceremony began with a procession of student and faculty groups from the university, including: faculty delegates, the president’s executive council, alumni delegates, students representing academic departments, students representing student organizations, students representing varsity sports and the dais party.

Once the groups entered the auditorium, the Edinboro University pipes and drums band played as Walker joined the dais party on the stage.

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Chancellor Frank Brogan performed the official investiture of the president, and chair of the PASSHE Board of Governors, Cynthia Shapira, administered the oath of office to Walker.

Additionally, Dennis Frampton, Chair of the Edinboro University Council of Trustees and Dr. Brian Zimmerman, macebearer and professor of geosciences, presented the university’s medallion and mace.

After Walker was officially instated, he began his speech by saying, “I would like to extend my sincere thanks for the opportunity that has been provided to me to serve this great university as its 18th president. It is a tremendous privilege to devote myself fully to responsible stewardship of the university’s traditions, resources and future.”

He continued by accepting and embracing the authority and responsibilities of his office.

“This is the work I have prepared my whole life to do, to serve higher education,” he said.

Walker said that he shares his responsibilities with the members of the university community, noting that it is up to each person in the Edinboro community “to transform the Edinboro University we have inherited.”

He spoke of his background: how he was a nontraditional student in the Navy, how the Navy was his path to college and how he overcame struggles throughout his life.

“The obstacles were huge. At times, they seemed insurmountable,” he said. “With resolve and a commitment to education, I succeeded
in overcoming those obstacles and achieved my goal, earning not only my undergraduate degree, but also an MBA by the time my nine- year enlistment ended.”

In November, Walker formed three working groups that were to analyze various aspects of the university, including academics, enrollment and finances. His speech broadly addressed some of the findings of the working groups and kept a strong focus on how the university will change positively in the future.

He said, “At our moment in history, the challenges are well-defined...we are confronting areas in which we have fallen short, but we also have discovered that we are strong.”

He continued: “Let there be no doubt: we have very good academic programs, very good faculty and very good staff. Our academic program review will ensure that our programs are strong and relevant to today’s students and the economy of Pennsylvania without diminishing our commitment to producing well-rounded thinkers and citizens.”

He went on to talk about how academics is not the only facet that distinguishes a university. Walker highlighted students who have excelled in the areas of experiential learning, athletics, and clubs and organizations.

“The success of that work will lead to greater student success and enhance the post-college success of our alumni as they enter the workforce,” he said.

Walker closed his speech with, “As we stand at this intersection of tradition and transformation, the path forward is ours to choose, and I believe the way is clear.”

After the ceremony concluded, Walker stood in the lobby of the auditorium with his family and shook the hands of members of the community and the university, beaming with pride each time someone congratulated him.

According to a news release from Director for University Communications Jeffrey Hileman, to celebrate Walker’s inauguration, the university created the Dr. H. Fred Walker Student Success Fund to “provide access to high-impact experiences that offer students encouragement to excel in the classroom and the freedom to participate in leadership, campus and community activities.”

Money collected for the fund will support “research initiatives, lectures, symposia, diversity/ global learning, service learning, community- based learning, internships and student travel for professional and personal development.”

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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