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Austin Peay installs Dr. Mike Licari as University’s 11th president

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Board Chair Billy Atkins places the Presidential Medallion around Licari’s neck.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. –During a special ceremony Friday morning, Austin Peay State University officially installed Dr. Mike Licari as the 11th president of the institution. The celebration began with a traditional processional of faculty and staff in full regalia, and it featured musical performances and well-wishes from local and state dignitaries.

“We embrace your leadership, we support your vision for our beloved University,” Joe Shakeenab, president of Austin Peay’s National Alumni Association, said. “We believe that you will listen to and empower our students, that you facilitate great growth of our faculty and our staff, and we want you to know that our National Alumni Association stands ready to help you foster greater community relationships and foster greater alumni giving.”

On Dec. 21, 2020, the APSU Board of Trustees named Licari as the University’s 11th president. He officially arrived at Austin Peay on March 1, 2021. Licari previously served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“I think you’ll find this community next to none,” Col. Andrew Jordan, Fort Campbell Garrison Commander, said. “The welcome, the embrace, the family atmosphere that Fort Campbell, Clarksville, this entire Middle Tennessee region will show you, it is awesome.”

Licari earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Minnesota and his Masters of Arts in political science and Ph.D. in political science with a focus on public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“Mike continued his education and filled about every role one could fill in a higher education university system, but the best was yet to come,” Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett said. “He couldn’t resist the urge of ‘the Peay.’”

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Professor Jane Semler introduces guests.

Before coming to Austin Peay, Licari served as a professor, department chair, associate provost for academic affairs, dean of a graduate college, interim provost and an acting university president. Earlier this year, he formed a strategic planning committee with the intention of reexamining the 94-year-old institution’s current trajectory. As part of the process, the committee is working to develop a new vision, mission and strategic plan for Austin Peay.

“Your success means that we are successful,” Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts said. “As we look out at the horizon, we know that Austin Peay will celebrate 100 years of existence in 2027, and we look forward to celebrating that milestone with you.”

After several congratulatory speeches, Austin Peay’s faculty brass quintet performed “Fanfare ‘Avete Omnes,’” composed by Dr. Jeffrey Wood, APSU music professor. The University’s Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts commissioned the piece for the event.

Once the performance ended, Dr. Maria Cronley, APSU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, presented the “Charge from the University” to Licari.       

“I am so proud to be a Gov and even more proud to know that today means we install a president who embodies the servant leadership at the core of what it means to govern,” she said. “As we approach our centennial, we know that you are the right scholar and leader to position us for success for the next 100 years.”

Billy Atkins, chair of Austin Peay’s Board of Trustees, performed the investiture, placing the Presidential Medallion around Licari’s neck. Following a standing ovation, the University’s new leader delivered his presidential address.

“It is clear that the support in the community for this University runs deep,” he said. “Our students are talented and hardworking, and our faculty and staff are dedicated and successful professionals. I could not be more proud and honored to lead such a university.”

The Presidential Installation Ceremony is a 400-year-old collegiate tradition, originating in the country’s colonial colleges in the 17th century.

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