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Photo Essay: The Presidential Inauguration of Dr. Ben Vinson III

President Ben Vinson III at Inauguration

Campus was festive and the mood ebullient as Howard University formally inaugurated its 18th president, Dr. Ben Vinson III, on Saturday, November 4.

The University community and collegiate heads from across the country filed into Cramton Auditorium to coronate Howard’s new chief executive. Vinson’s colleagues from across academia lauded his leadership and expressed unbridled excitement about his capacity to elevate Howard to its next – and highest – levels.

“From seeing him in action, I can say that he’s one of those rare human beings who thinks and works on always at least three levels at once,” said Joy Connolly, Ph.D., president of the American Council of Learned Societies, during her in-person greetings. “At a polarized and challenging time in higher education and across society, President Vinson is, and I know will continue to be, a swimmer and a bridgebuilder, creating the alliances that help students and faculty thrive.”

During Vinson’s inaugural address, he expressed his own ideals for his presidency. “Why me, why here, why now?” he posited. “I am here as a conduit and a guide for our collective spirit and vision. I am here to steward our legacy forward. And I see more amazing treasures for us just ahead.”

Following the inauguration exercises, Vinson hosted family and friends for an intimate reception atop the Wayne A. I. Frederick Undergraduate Library. Laughter reverberated across the room as Vinson greeted both longtime companions and new associates alike. Spirits would remain high throughout the remainder of the afternoon.

“President Vinson’s address truly captured the spirit of Howard and shared with us his commitment to carrying the great traditions of Howard even as he brings forth his own vision,” said Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Ph.D., senior advisor for strategic initiatives. “I am excited to see how he works with the entire community to imagine Howard for the future.”

All photos courtesy of Jonathan Spinks.

Judi Burgess, Esq. (B.A. '87)

Judi Burgess, Esq. (B.A. '87) documents the day through her smartphone.

Pamela E. Scott Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr. Pamela E. Scott Johnson, Spelman College's provost and vice president for academic affairs, chats ahead of the inauguration ceremony.

Cabinet members

Cabinet members pose for a selfie taken by Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Howard University executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Howard deans and Mount Holyoke president Danielle Holley

A few of Howard University female deans, including dean emerita and Mount Holyoke president Danielle Holley.

Dr. Joy Connolly

Dr. Joy Connolly, president of the American Council of Learned Societies, delivers greetings during inauguration.

Ms. Valada Parker Flewellyn

Ms. Valada Parker Flewellyn delivers a poetry reading for Dr. Vinson's inauguration.

Chairman Morse, Vice Chairs Mason and Hale, and President Vinson

Board chairman Dr. Laurence Morse (B.A. '73) and vice chairs Mark Mason (B.B.A. '91) and Leslie Hale (B.B.A. '94) prepare the investiture of Dr. Ben Vinson as Howard University's 18th president.

Dr. Fortenberry and children

Dr. Yolanda Fortenberry stands with her and Dr. Vinson's three children, Ben IV, Allyson, and Brandon.

Dr. Ben Vinson

Dr. Ben Vinson delivers his inaugural address. Moments prior, he officially became just the 18th president in Howard University history.

Zakiyyah Salim-Williams (B.A. '98)

Zakiyyah Salim-Williams (B.A. '98) stands to be recognized during Dr. Vinson's inaugural address.

Nia Naylor and President Vinson

Howard University student association president Nia Naylor "teaches" Dr. Vinson how to perform the "H-U! You know!" call-and-response.

Clasped hands

President Vinson and Provost Anthony Wutoh clasp hands during the singing of the University's Alma Mater.

Dr. Vinson with his sons

Dr. Vinson enters the post-inauguration reception with sons Brandon and Ben IV.

Dr. Fortenberry and daughter Allyson

Dr. Fortenberry and daughter Allyson at the post-inauguration reception.

Dr. Vinson with family and friends

Dr. Vinson greets family and friends at the post-inauguration reception.