On Friday morning, Dr. William Behre will officially be inaugurated as Slippery Rock University’s 17th president. In true SRU fashion, The Rock is expressing its excitement with a 17-day party, featuring concerts, football games and even pet parades.
The celebration kicked off Nov. 1 with a Paws for a Cause event sponsored by the Student Government Association. Senior sport management major and SGA President Dallas Kline said the inauguration planning committee wanted to start the celebration with a service event, so they partnered with the Butler Humane Society for Paws for a Cause. BCHS representatives brought binders with pages displaying pets at the shelter and their names, ages and quirks to the Aebersold Recreation Center for the event.
“We were teaching students about responsible adoption, how to go about it, and answering questions like, ‘Can you really have a dog in college?'” Kline said. “We also collected supplies for the BCHS like paper towels, toys, food, all sorts of stuff, and if students brought something in, they got a coupon to the bookstore.”
At 3 p.m., the Pet Parade began with President Behre’s dogs Oscar and Sadie leading the other pets around the ARC, giving Behre and his wife Leah Ingram the chance to show off their beloved furry friends. Kline said 15-20 students brought their pets out for the parade, and every pet owner was entered to win a leash from SGA.
Kline said she and David Wilmes, associate provost for student success, were part of the planning committee representing the students’ voice. Kline also works with President Behre often, as he is her counterpart through SGA. They meet monthly to discuss the SGA meetings and other business, and Kline said she also sees him as a kind of mentor, and he advises her in terms of leadership and student affairs.
“My favorite thing about President Behre is that he’s very honest; he’ll tell me straight up, whether I want to hear it or not, what he’s feeling,” Kline said. “Like, if I had a bad meeting or something, he’ll tell me, ‘This is what you did wrong, but this is how to make it better.’ I really appreciate that because sometimes people like to just save face in those positions but he’s very honest.”
Recently, Kline met with Behre to talk about his involvement on campus during the 17-day celebration because he’s been active and has attended at least one event every day. Kline said he loves what he does, and really enjoys attending all the events and learning about what SRU students are up to on a day-to-day basis. He began his career in higher education as a professor and moved his way up through administration and finally to university president, so it makes sense that he’s inclined to be interested in student life.
“He’s always like, ‘We don’t tell the world enough of what we do here at Slippery Rock University,’ so maybe he can help us share what we’re doing,” Kline said.
While a few events were created specifically for this celebration, like Paws for a Cause and a President’s Brunch, many events were just included in the celebration, recognizing that SRU is well-rounded and features all kinds of students, from artists to musicians to sports stars and everything in between. A few events included on the 17-day itinerary include the Chad Williamson Memorial Vocal Competition, which took place on Nov. 2, Monday night’s International Fashion Show, the Order of Omega’s Apple Polishing event Wednesday night, and the upcoming PSAC championship football game on Saturday. In addition to being considered part of the party, Behre has also attended a majority of the events on the schedule, displaying his excitement and dedication to the SRU community.
President Behre was honored Wednesday night by Sigma Tau Gamma during Apple Polishing, an annual event hosted by the Order of Omega, Fraternity and Sorority Life’s honor society. Historically, each Fraternity and Sorority Life organization nominated one faculty or staff member each to receive an award for outstanding service and support. This year, three nominees were chosen to receive awards and the others were recognized as nominees; Behre was one of the three to receive an award.
The President’s Brunch, Kline said, is a chance for presidents of various on-campus clubs and organizations to gather with President Behre to discuss leadership and things going on within and outside of the organizations. The brunch will take place on Sunday morning in Boozel Dining Hall. The event will also give organization presidents the chance to compile a list of events happening so they can encourage their members to participate and build upon the community.
Kline mentioned that Behre actually spends a lot of time at Boozel Dining Hall, eating and talking with students.
“He eats in Boozel a lot, and he loves to talk to students, so if you ever want to talk to him, just go wait at Boozel, he’ll show up eventually,” Kline laughed.
The inauguration itself will take place Friday morning at 11 a.m. in the Morrow Field House, featuring delegates from other institutions, representatives from SRU organizations and departments, and faculty members.
“It’s going to involve a lot of different moving parts, kind of like a graduation ceremony, with speeches and musical performances,” Kline said. “It’s all about welcoming Dr. Behre and officially swearing him in. I’m really excited for it.”
One thing of note Kline mentioned about Behre was how adamant he was during the planning process about spending as little money as possible; he wants all the money to go back to the university and, ultimately the students.
Kline said while she herself is excited about the inauguration, she hopes the rest of the student body is, too, because of how important and rare this event is going to be.
“Hopefully, Dr. Behre will be here for more than 10 years, so the next generation of students won’t necessarily see an inauguration, so I hope students will come out to it,” Kline said. “This doesn’t happen often, I hope everybody’s excited.”