Like funerals and weddings, inauguration ceremonies for college presidents can be formal, elaborate, and costly ($25,000 and up) or ascetic, simple, and inexpensive ($500 or less). The style, scope, and symbolism depend upon the size and budget of the group sponsoring the event, the intended thrust of the observance, and sometimes, the specific requests of the honoree.

This fall, installation costs at colleges and seminaries surveyed by CHRISTIANITY TODAY ranged from a low of $468 (Westmont College) to a high of approximately $25,000 (Catholic University). Two California schools, Westmont and Loyola University of Los Angeles, were among those attempting to break the long-standing academic tradition of elaborate inaugurations.

At Westmont (850 students), Dr. John William Snyder, installed as fourth president of the four-year liberal-arts college, insisted that his inauguration be a simple “family affair.” Crowed an advance press release: “Not only has the traditional title ‘inauguration’ been abandoned, but all of the conventional trappings will be gone as well—no lavish ceremony, lengthy speeches, academic regalia, emphasis on degrees, weighty invitation list—and most important, no staggering bill to plague the college comptroller.”

The ninety-minute program—a litany and four speeches—was held in the gym and cost a mere $468, including personnel time for setting up facilities. A Westmont official estimated the cost for a traditional inauguration at $3,200.Donald P. Merrifield, 40-year-old priest and physicist installed at Loyola (about 2,300 students), asked that his ceremonies be kept austere so funds normally set aside for such an event could be used for minority ...

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