Building ‘Momentum’

What to expect on campus on inauguration day

Brookings Hall with Momentum lights
A crowd of students and members of the Washington University community helped kickoff inauguration week early in the evening of Sept. 30 with the lighting of Brookings Hall and a nod to the inauguration theme of "Momentum." The building will be lit each night through Friday, Oct. 4. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

It’s finally here: The daylong celebration of the inauguration of Andrew D. Martin as chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis is tomorrow, Oct. 3.

Martin is the 15th chancellor in Washington University’s 166-year history, and it’s the ninth time formal inauguration proceedings have been held on campus. With all its pomp and ceremony, an inauguration is a time-honored academic tradition and a chance to celebrate our past, present and future.

With the theme of “Momentum,” Martin will accept his charge of office in an inaugural address that outlines his priorities and vision for the university. The address will be delivered as part of the installation ceremony that begins at 3 p.m., with an academic procession into Brookings Quadrangle.

The ceremony is open to the entire community and will include delegates from universities across the country and around the world, along with chancellors emeriti William H. Danforth and Mark S. Wrighton; members of the Board of Trustees; faculty marshals; and representatives from the student body, staff and alumni, all in academic regalia.

The ceremony will be broadcast live online beginning with a pre-ceremony program at 1:30 p.m., hosted by faculty members Adrienne D. Davis, vice provost, the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law and founding director of the new Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity; and Todd Decker, the Paul Tietjens Professor of Music and chair of the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

After a welcome by John Drobak, the George Alexander Madill Professor of Real Property & Equity Jurisprudence at Washington University School of Law and grand marshal of the procession, Andrew E. Newman, chair of the Washington University Board of Trustees, will make opening remarks.

What's with the tam?

A tam is the distinctive head covering typically worn in academic celebrations, and tomorrow there will be tams aplenty in Brookings Quadrangle.

In recent months, Meredith Liu, a senior fashion major in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, has turned her sights to a unique challenge, designing two custom tams for Chancellor Andrew D. Martin to wear at his historic inauguration. Read more about Liu’s design thinking and the process in creating a custom tam for a special occasion.

Greetings from representatives of the faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, staff and alumni will make up the next part of the program. Then Paul Tran, MFA ’19, a former Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow of The Writing Program, will read an inaugural poem they wrote especially for the occasion. The Washington University Concert and Chamber Choirs, under the direction of Nicole Aldrich, and the Washington University Wind Ensemble will provide music.

After Martin is presented with the chancellor’s medallion and the ceremonial university charter, he will be officially installed by Newman. Following Martin’s address and acceptance of office, everyone will join in the singing of the alma mater and the delegates and distinguished guests will proceed to a reception on the John M. Olin Library lawn at 4:30 p.m., an event also open to the entire community.

Still have questions? Here are some answers:

Sounds a lot like a Commencement. How will it be different? It will look a lot like a Commencement — but without the diplomas, outside speaker and parade of graduation candidates. The academic nature of an inauguration is by design, and is a time-honored higher education tradition. An inauguration reaffirms the university’s mission and its place in the community and the world and is a cause for great celebration and affirmation of who we are as a community.

How will inauguration day affect parking on campus? A heavy volume of visitors is expected on campus for the east end dedication today, Oct. 2, and tomorrow, Oct. 3. Regular daily campus parking will be impacted. Parking & Transportation is providing a shuttle service and has laid out a detailed plan for the day.

What’s a delegate? A delegate is a representative from an institution of higher learning, and there will be more than 70 of them participating in the installation ceremony from around the world. They will line up in order of their charter, led by Harvard University, which was chartered in 1636, all the way up to Missouri Baptist University, which received its charter in 1964.

What’s the significance of the symbols of office? The chancellor’s medallion symbolizes the office and is worn on formal university occasions such as Commencement. It was originally designed in 1946 by Louise C. Richter, a faculty member in the School of Fine Arts, along with Neomi M. Walsh and Mary L. Lischer, for Arthur Holly Compton’s inauguration. It’s a three-inch disk embossed with symbols of the university seal and a chain of alternating gold and silver links.

Student inauguration programming

Special inauguration programming has been planned specifically for students and by students.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 3, the Social Programming Board presents the Student Inauguration Concert on Mudd Field, featuring DaniLeigh with Special Guest Agnez Mo. Chancellor Andrew D. Martin will greet the students later in the evening, at approximately 9 p.m., in his final public event of the day.

At 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, TEDxWUSTL presents “Momentum” in Knight Hall’s Emerson Auditorium. The event will feature five student speakers sharing ideas on topics ranging from dance to protest to horror movies. WUSLAM, the university’s poetry slam team, will also perform.

The ceremonial university charter features text from the 1853 and 1857 original charters and an original woodcut of Brookings Hall. It was designed by D.B. Dowd, professor of art and of American culture studies, and former faculty member Sarah Spurr.

Any other inauguration activities going on? The day kicks off with the Inauguration Symposium from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. in Emerson Auditorium in Knight Hall. Here’s the lineup of faculty speakers, along with a link to view the event remotely. The newly expanded Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will be open to visitors as well from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There, you can see the special exhibition “Ai Weiwei: Bare Life,” featuring more than 35 artworks by the renowned Chinese artist and human rights activist. And following the ceremony, from 4:30-5:30 p.m., the new east end will be available to tour as well, with guides stationed throughout Ann and Andrew Tisch Park and in each of the new buildings to share insights and information.

Will I be able to access Olin Library? The upper and lower levels of Olin Library will be available all day for quiet study, but there is going to be a hub of activity Oct. 3 with the afternoon reception on the lawn and the chancellor’s inauguration exhibition, “Momentum: Bridging Past, Present, and Future,” in the main lobby. The Olin Library website has more detailed information.

Not to be a killjoy, but what if it rains? We’ve got a plan for that, too. Even if there’s a little rain, Brookings Quadrangle will be ready. In the slight chance that it storms, the festivities will move to the Field House in the Athletic Complex, with the reception immediately following in the varsity gym.

Where can I get more information? The livestream and latest, up-to-date information will be available at

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