Joan Gabel was formally inaugurated Friday as the 17th president of the University of Minnesota.
The day started with an installation ceremony in the regents boardroom in McNamara Alumni Center, followed by a march down Scholars Walk to Northrop Mall, where Gabel delivered her inaugural address. Throughout the events, Gabel drew attention to the University’s rich history and the tribal nations of Minnesota.
Gabel is the first female president in the University’s nearly 170-year history.
Board of Regents Chair Ken Powell, University law professor Carol Chomsky and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz spoke at the invite-only installation ceremony. Gabel was granted a ceremonial mace by Walz and a medallion by Powell.
From there, Gabel walked the length of Scholars Walk to the steps of Northrop Auditorium, where she gave her inaugural address. Lining Scholar’s Walk were students, faculty, administration and other University community members, including union demonstrators.
Powell and Minnesota Student Association Vice President Jael Kerandi also spoke before the address.
“We are hopeful that our president’s passionate advocacy for mental health and the prevention of all forms of sexual misconduct will improve the experience that students have on our campus,” Kerandi said.
In her speech, Gabel spoke about the University’s past and evoked a sense of shared responsibility among the University community.
“We must embrace this unfinished business, and we must live up to the calling we share, knowing that the most important tasks of our University are done by everyone,”Gabel said.
Gabel thanked her family, friends and mentors in her address, and also mentioned the tribal nations of Minnesota.
“It is important to acknowledge the peoples on whose land we live, learn and work as we seek to improve and strengthen our relations with our tribal nations,” Gabel said.
The address was filled with references to the University’s history and notable alumni, including music producer Libby Larsen and football player Bruce Smith, but Gabel emphasized progress.
“As we pivot ahead, I look forward to working with you to take leaps where needed, and incremental steps as necessary – but to ensure that each step, no matter how large or small, moves us forward,” Gabel said.
After the ceremony and address, the University community was invited to a “festive lunch” on the Northrop Mall in celebration of Gabel’s inauguration. The event offered free food, activities and music.
Many students who attended the inauguration responded positively.
“I’m excited to see how she interacts with students in the future,” said Reed Grumann, a third-year student studying microbiology and political science.
Kaiya Woller, a first-year student majoring in youth studies, said, “I really like that she did this instead of having a stuffy banquet.”
The festive atmosphere of the inauguration attracted a lot of students who were unaware of the event.
“I was just walking around and I saw all the bustle,” freshman Nolan Litschewski said. “I think [Gabel] is pretty awesome from what I’ve seen.”