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Hoppe officially named Austin Peay's president

September 18, 2001

"Dr. Hoppe, this is your day," Charles Manning, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor, said on Monday. Moments later, Manning placed the seal of Austin Peay State University around Sherry Hoppe's neck, officially making her the institution's eight president.

When Manning completed his task, the hundreds of people gathered in the music and mass communications building on the APSU campus for Hoppe's inauguration ceremony stood and applauded her. It would be one of three standing ovations the University's first female president would receive during the day.

The ceremony started with the University Symphony Band performing "Pomp and Circumstance," while Hoppe and delegates from other universities filed into the building's concert theater. Hoppe took her seat on stage in the large elaborately carved chair that once rested in Gov. Austin Peay's office. Around her sat fellow academics as well as state and local politicians.

"Thank you to those that were responsible for selecting Dr. Sherry Hoppe as the leader of Austin Peay State University," Mayor Johnny Piper said during the ceremony. "She is the right person for the right time for Austin Peay State University and Clarksville, Tenn. She provides a bold vision and a bold direction for Austin Peay, a vision and direction that is needed for our community."

County Executive Doug Weiland also participated in the ceremony, expressing the pride he felt as an alumnus of APSU.

"The history and the tradition of Austin Peay State University is part of the pride that we citizens of Montgomery County share, and that pride is now being enhanced with this inauguration ceremony today," he said. "I'm convinced Dr. Hoppe is the best person to be at the helm of this institution and to lead us through the many, many challenges that we all face today."

Images of the horrors that occurred last Tuesday were still fresh on the minds of all in attendance, with many speaking of the events in their speeches. While Sharon Mabry sang the national anthem, Hoppe and her colleagues seemed lost in thought for a few moments.

U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant spoke of his appreciation for the University's continuing with business in light of the recent tragedy. "It is time to go forward," he said.

Hoppe was named the school's president after serving in the position on an interim basis for a year when former president Sal Rinella left. Because of her performance during this period, Manning said he is sure Hoppe is up to the task of being president.

"For more than a year you have carried all the responsibilities of president of Austin Peay State University. You've done so with tremendous enthusiasm and with a deep commitment to move Austin Peay forward to a bright future," he said. "I am confident that you, Dr. Hoppe, will make history as one of the most outstanding presidents ever to lead this great university."

After receiving much praise, Hoppe was finally able to address the crowd. She credited her parents for molding her into the person she is today. She then spoke of how the ceremony was more than simply the naming of a president.

"An inauguration should be more than just an installation of a president," she said. "It needs to be a time of university-wide reflection and rededication to the ideals of learning and the values upon which this great University was founded."

With budget problems and inadequate funding continuing to affect higher education in Tennessee, Hoppe has a tough road ahead of her. She is already looking for ways to cure these ills.

"In a state that already falls far below the national average in number of citizens with college degrees, reducing access is not the answer to our state's budget woes," she said. "In reality, increasing access may be Tennessee's only chance of long-term prosperity."

After the ceremony, Hoppe greeted her guests during a reception in the courtyard outside the building.

(Reprinted with permission from "The Leaf Chronicle" and writer Charles Booth)