• Natalie Faas

The Inauguration of Steve K. Stoute, the 25th President of Canisius College

On Saturday, Oct. 22, Steve K. Stoute was inaugurated as the 25th president of Canisius College. The ceremony was the main attraction after a week of celebration for the new president. There was an incredible amount of pomp and circumstance throughout the ceremony.

Many remarked on the history of this occasion. Presidential inaugurations are not common at any college or university and Canisius is no exception. The last to take place was in 2010 when John J. Hurley was inaugurated as the first layman to become president of the college.

President Stoute was joined by a crowd of family and friends including his parents and siblings as well as his in-laws and his wife Alison and their two daughters Isabelle and Genevieve.

The ceremony began at 10:45 with the presidential procession which was made up of students, faculty, staff, and representatives from higher education, law-making bodies and The Society of Jesus.

The crowd in the Koessler Athletic Center was greeted by the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Sara Morris Ph.D. Morris served as the master of ceremonies throughout the two-hour event.

Representing the Diocese of Buffalo, Bishop Michael W. Fisher began the ceremony promising President Stoute the Diocese’s full support of his leadership of Canisius, a Catholic College. The Bishop, as well as many others also offered the new president and his family greetings as they enter the Buffalo community.

U.S Congressman Chris Jacobs offered a spirited greeting, praising higher education and saying that today’s youth are the future leaders of this world. He offered his congratulations to President Stoute on behalf of the United States House of Representatives.

Mayor of the City of Buffalo, Byron Brown mentioned his close ties to Canisius in his greeting. Living in the Hamlin Park community himself, Brown was the first of multiple to mention the racist massacre that took place at the Tops Supermarket, May 14, just a mile away from the Canisius campus.

Representing the Faculty, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lawrence, Chair of the faculty senate expressed his gratitude for the president choosing Canisius. He also mirrored a shared excitement for this change and opportunity for Canisius.

Representing the Alumni, the President of the Alumni Association, Michael Kochczynski ‘08 MS’12 offered congratulations to the president on behalf of the Canisius College Alumni, echoing their excitement to work alongside him.

The undergraduate students were represented by the president of the Undergraduate Student Association, Jahare Hudson ‘24. Hudson shared his first time meeting the president while he was here for the final round of presidential interviews. He shared the excitement he felt when the president addressed each of the students by their names.

Representing graduate students was Inaugural Student Physician Assistant Association president, Stacey Menos MS‘23. Stacey offered some insight on the Physician Assistant cohort and what impact higher education has had on her and the impact it has in “igniting change”.

It is customary at a presidential inauguration at an institution for the President to choose a guest speaker. President Stoute chose A. Gabriel Esteban Ph.D. Esteban is President Emeritus of DePaul University, President Stoute’s previous institution. Esteban focused his speech on the Importance of higher education access to lower-income students.

President Stoute greeted each speaker with a handshake and a hug.

After the greetings, the formal investiture of the President began. He was changed into his new regalia, signifying he is now the president of the college. He was also presented with the seal and charter of the college, presidential medal, and ceremonial mace.

The president was then formally missioned by the Society of Jesus as “director of the work”. This ceremony is unique to Jesuit institutions. The Provincial of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus, Very Rev. Joseph M. O’Keefe SJ, and Rev. Thomas R. Slon SJ. Rector of the Canisius Jesuit Community performed this special missioning.

The president was then introduced by his sister Shonda J. J. Stoute, who shared touching stories of growing up with her older brother and how he bestowed his wisdom onto her, always inspiring her to work hard on her studies.

The President then gave his Inaugural address. He began with heartfelt words of thanks to his family, friends, and colleagues, often getting emotional. The president’s address revolved around responding to injustice with action. Stoute said, “all who make up our community, our distinguished faculty, our incredible staff, our inspirational students, their parents, our alumni community, who number 50,000 strong, our neighbors and friends, our donors. We will, by our actions, rise to meet this moment.”

To listen to the President’s inaugural address in its entirety, visit https://www.canisius.edu/about/presidential-inauguration .

The ceremony concluded with a benediction by Sister Barbara E. Reid OP, Ph.D., President of the Catholic Theological Union.


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