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Campus, community to celebrate Presidential Investiture Nov. 7

Lamar University faculty and staff are preparing to celebrate new leadership with the investiture of Kenneth Evans as the 15th president of the university. The investiture will be held Thursday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m. in the Montagne Center.

Dr. Ken Evans“The public is encouraged to be a part of this important event in the history of the university,” said Juan Zabala, associate vice president for university advancement. “After the program, there will be a reception to provide everyone an opportunity to meet President Ken Evans and First Lady, Nancy.” 

The event will celebrate Lamar’s leadership and vision with all the trappings of academic traditions and regalia, Zabala said. Past presidents have used their inaugural address to rally attendees around a vision for the future, to share a set of values to which the university or larger community should aspire, and to proclaim the university's academic mission. President Evans will address attendees in his acceptance speech.

The investiture coincides with the university’s 90th anniversary. Lamar University was founded in 1923 a few blocks from its current location as South Park Junior College. It became Lamar College in 1932 in honor of Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas and the “Father of Education” in Texas. In the early 1940s, Lamar moved to its current location, and, in 1951 became Lamar State College of Technology.  Twenty years later, the school became Lamar University. It became a part of the Texas State University System in 1995.

Investiture means to formally invest a new leader with the authority of office, including the proper symbols and clothing. The term comes from the Latin verb, vestire, which means to dress, and vestis, which means robe. Use of the term for the formal installation of new leadership dates to feudal times. The presidential robe, medallion and mace will be conferred at pivotal moments in the inauguration ceremony, Zabala said. 

Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall will emcee the investiture program.  Donna Williams, chairman of the TSUS Board of Regents, will conduct the formal investiture. Regents David Montagne of Beaumont and Bill Scott of Nederland will also join in the program. 

Also participating in the program are State Representative Joe Deshotel, Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames, President Emeritus James Simmons, Provost Stephen Doblin, Faculty Senate President Barbara Hernandez, Student Government President Charity Ogbeide, Alumni Board President Vernon Durden, Foundation Board President Joe Domino, and Staff Advisory Council President Diann Brodnax. 

As a part of investiture week, LU students will have the opportunity to take part in a special President’s Outdoor Extravaganza on Nov. 5 beginning at 4 p.m. in front of the Brooks-Shivers Dining Hall. Activities will move to McDonald Gym in the event of rain. 

President Evans will kick off the event that will include a variety of outdoor yard games, rock climbing wall, inflatables, hammocks for relaxation, hot chocolate and s’mores, a movie on the lawn and music. 

“President Evans has made outdoor pursuits an integral part of an active healthy lifestyle,” Zabala said. “Giving students an opportunity to celebrate the investiture and have some outdoor fun is a great combination.” 

“We are making special efforts to really make this an outstanding day in the history of the university,” said Lamar University has Registrar David Short. “Thankfully, we have a really great team at work on pulling everything together.”

The processional march includes 226 faculty members, 43 members of the platform party, and 30 student ambassadors. In addition, 40 to 50 honors students will assist the six university marshals – traffic directors – in ensuring all find proper places.

In addition to the participation of scores of honors students and LU Student Ambassadors, other students will be featured in the program through their participation in the band and choir. 

Presidential MedallionThe work of one student in particular will stand out. Jonathan Blake, a graduate student in trumpet, has composed an original fanfare for the investiture of Kenneth Evans as the 15th president of Lamar University. 

“I was inspired by the occasion of the investiture. It is a big deal, a very prestigious thing. I just thought I would like to show my support for Lamar and for Dr. Evans. That was my way of doing it, my little creative outlet,” Blake said.

“It’s all about building,” Blake said, describing the fanfare. “It starts out in unison and the parts kind of split and it grows. It is very stately. It grabs the attention at the very beginning and commands the attention of the listener.” 

Lamar’s past presidents are Louis Pietzsch, 1923-1924; Carl Bingman, 1924-1941; John Gray, 1941-1951, 1972-1977; F. L. McDonald, 1952-1967; Richard Setzer, 1967-1969; Frank Thomas, 1969-1972; Robert Kemble, 1977-1984; Andrew Johnson, interim, 1984-1985; Bill Franklin, 1985-1991; John Idoux, interim, 1991-1992; Brock Brentlinger, interim, 1992-1993; Rex Cottle, 1993-1998; William Johnson, interim, 1998-1999; and James Simmons, 1999-2013. 

For more information, visit lamar.edu/investiture or call (409) 880-8419. Funding for the investiture generously provided by Gay and Bill Scott.