Holy Cross Celebrates Inauguration of 33rd President Vincent D. Rougeau

Rougeau makes history as the College's first lay and first Black president

Vincent D. Rougeau was installed as College of the Holy Cross' 33rd president – the first lay and first Black president to lead the 178-year-old institution – in a ceremony punctuated by inspirational words and feelings of excitement and hopefulness.

The installation, held in the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex, put the ceremonial stamp on a tenure that began July 1 when Rougeau took over from his predecessor, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., who was also in attendance.

A nationally respected expert in legal education and Catholic social thought, Rougeau was dean of the Boston College Law School and the inaugural director of the new Boston College Forum on Racial Justice in America, prior to his arrival at Holy Cross. He currently serves as president of the Association of American Law Schools.

Fr. Joseph M. O'Keefe, SJ, the first provincial of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus and a Class of '76 alumnus, welcomed Rougeau to his ministry as the 33rd President of the College of the Holy Cross during the installation ceremony.

O'Keefe, who worked with the president during his tenure at Boston College, said that Rougeau has "the skills and insights to affirm the Catholic, Jesuit, and Ignatian mission of this school in the ways that are open to knowledge, dedicated to the pursuit of faith and the struggle for justice, and conscious of the importance of a liberal arts education."

In his inaugural address, Rougeau spoke about the challenges ahead for higher education and underscored the importance of making sure higher education is a place where people of all backgrounds can participate in the pursuit of social justice.

"This is our enduring mission, guided by our Catholic faith, and reflecting the changing times," said Rougeau. "This is a moment of opportunity, of audacious hope, and belief in the transformative power of education. This is a day when a Black layman from the south can lead a Jesuit college in New England."

Rougeau, with his family in attendance, including his mother Shirley, father Weldon and stepmother Shirley, wife Robin Kornegay-Rougeau, M.D., three sons, Christian, Alex and Vincent Jr. ("V.J."), shared his bold vision for the College, a vision rooted in the enduring values of a Jesuit, Catholic, liberal arts education.

"Through a dynamic expression of today's Jesuit mission, we will lead Holy Cross to realize its full potential as one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the world," said Rougeau. "At Holy Cross, we accept that our world is knotty and imperfect. We believe that the best preparation for the challenges of the 21st century is a broad liberal education rooted in discovery, and amplified by our Catholic intellectual traditions."

Attending the event were members of the Holy Cross and Worcester communities, including representatives from colleges and universities throughout the country; Rev. Joseph M. O'Keefe, S.J., provincial of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus; Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty; and Most Rev. Robert Joseph McManus, S.T.D., bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, among others.

Richard H. Patterson '80, the chair of the Board of Trustees, shared his endorsement and enthusiasm for Vincent Rougeau as the College's new leader.

"We are fortunate to have a leader who has the skill, talent and moral compass to face the challenges ahead," said Patterson. "With Vince Rougeau, we have a leader whose intimate knowledge of higher education, whose faith and commitment to Catholic social teaching… whose ability to communicate effectively to diverse audiences… and whose perspectives on today's complex global issues will serve us very, very well."

Patterson's enthusiasm was mirrored by the crowds of students wearing matching purple shirts who made their way up to Luth Athletic Complex to form a procession line for the installation ceremony, as well as the Student Government Association's Co-Presidents Maggie Ober'22 and Connor McNerney '22 in their remarks.

"President Rougeau, with not even a full semester completed, your presence here on the Hill has been clearly felt," said Ober. "From meeting with various student groups on campus, tailgating at Freshman Field, and greeting alumni from far and wide, Crusaders past and present alike have been able to get to know your kindness and generosity. We know that your welcoming, warm, and bright spirit will lead current and future students to greatness."

Inauguration festivities included a faculty symposium on Thursday, Oct. 21 titled "Global Engagement and Democratic Citizenship" featuring a keynote address by human rights expert, legal scholar and former Dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow; a special concert with famed jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard at Mechanics Hall in Worcester that same day; and an Inauguration Mass on Friday, Oct. 22 at Holy Cross' St. Joseph's Chapel.

To see more photos and videos from the inauguration events and to read Rougeau's remarks, visit our Inauguration website.