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Hoppe inauguration to feature something old, something new

September 10, 2001

Much of the pomp and circumstance that traditionally surrounds inaugurations of university presidents will be curtailed during the inauguration of Dr. Sherry L. Hoppe as eighth president of Austin Peay State University.

Slated for 10:30 a.m., Monday, Sept. 17 in the music/mass communication building concert theatre, the comparatively intimate ceremony promises its own charm. At Hoppe's request, three new traditions will commence with her inauguration.

The Presidential Robe, which will be worn for the first time by Hoppe, was designed and donated to APSU by Jostens and will remain with the University in perpetuity, so future presidents can wear it. The gown is made of black silk accented with the rich red associated with Austin Peay. Rather than traditional black chevrons on sleeves of the gowns of those holding academic doctorates, the chevrons on the sleeves of the Presidential Robe are made of deep red velvet piped with gold braiding, as are its front panels.

Newly created in commemoration of APSU's 75th Anniversary and worn for the first time by Hoppe, a three-inch, bronze President's Medallion holds the Seal of the University on one side. Inscribed within the 75th Anniversary logo on the reverse side are the words, “Reaching New Heights,” the theme for the yearlong celebration.

The original medallion was designed for the University's 50th Anniversary and has been worn by APSU presidents at ceremonial occasions since its creation in 1977.

Another highly visible addition to the ceremony is the Inaugural Chair. Almost six feet high and intricately carved of walnut, the chair played a major role in APSU's history. It was created for the late Gov. Austin Peay, for whom the University was named.

According to “The All-State” of May 22, 1974, the chair-for many years incorrectly called Gov. Austin Peay's inaugural chair-was actually the chair used in Gov. Peay's gubernatorial office at the state capitol.

When Peay died in office in 1927, his widow secured the chair from the state and presented it to Austin Peay State College during Halbert Harvill's presidency. Initially, it was placed below the portrait of Gov. Peay in Browning Building. Because of daily wear and tear, it was moved into storage in the basement of Harned Hall, then a women's dormitory.

At the time, three annual dances-the Iris Ball, Valentine Dance and Homecoming Dance-were held in the lobby of Harned Hall. A queen was crowned during each dance, and the chair was used in her “coronation.” The chair also was used during Homecoming. The tradition of crowning the queens in the Governor's chair continued through 1972, when Jere Baxter was the last Homecoming queen to sit in the chair on a homecoming float.

Moved in 1963 to Archwood, the official President's Residence during the tenure of President Joe Morgan, the massive chair was placed in the front hall, according to John Morgan, comptroller for the State of Tennessee and son of the late President Morgan. Throughout the years, the magnificent piece was shifted from room to room, ultimately coming to rest in the bedroom of young John Morgan.

The chair is on loan from The Hon. John Peay, Clarksville, grandson of the late Gov. Austin Peay. Judge Peay became curator of the chair in May 1974 by resolution of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Following the Inaugural Ceremony, a fingertip reception will be held in the courtyard between the music/mass communication building and Kimbrough.

For more information, call 7127.