On Oct. 6, for the first time in 21 years, the Neumann University community gathered to inaugurate a president.
In a ceremony awash in academic regalia and medieval symbolism, Dr. Chris E. Domes accepted the presidential medallion and looked to the future, declaring that “It is our destiny as a Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition to respond to the needs of this generation with compassionate hearts. Then, in turn, we will ask our students and our alumni to respond with a compassionate heart to those they encounter in their lives.”
In an 18-minute address, Dr. Domes called for connection and compassion.
“Our students are looking for engagement and purpose,” he said. “In a time when one can find daily examples of deep-rooted anger, high levels of mistrust and division, institutions with strong, purpose-driven missions are places of healing, hope, peace, and renewal.”
He acknowledged that the challenge is daunting.
“Education alone does not instill care for creation, compassion for others, or a commitment to speak the truth,” he said. “We have to find creative ways to collaborate, to provide access for students, and we must be willing to be bold.”
He also drew a clear parallel between the knights at the time of St. Francis, people of faith who “fight for the poor and marginalized, for the oppressed and the forgotten” and the modern Neumann Knight, referencing the university symbol.
“We must prepare our students to embrace the hurt, problems, and challenges of the world, and not to retreat from them,” Dr. Domes said.
More than 1,000 people filled the floor of the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality, and Character Development to witness the transition in leadership and welcome Dr. Domes (who assumed office on July 17) as the university’s sixth president.
Among the well-wishers who spoke before the presidential address were Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Aston Commissioner Carol Graham, Pennsylvania Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Pennsylvania Senator Tom Killion, and U.S. Congressman Patrick Meehan.