Investiture ceremony installs Ronald Berry as president

Investiture ceremonies are formal academic ceremonies held to grant the power and symbols of office upon a new university president. 

The transference of a college president’s authority is rare, so when it happens it is an event of honor and tradition. 

After serving one year as president of ULM, Ronald Berry was formally installed as the ninth president at his investiture ceremony.  

The ceremony began with an academic procession of faculty, staff and former and present administration. 

From there, host Seth Hall, the chief strategy officer, began the ceremony with a prayer by SGA president Lauren Fee and an explanation of what an investiture ceremony is by James Cofer, the seventh president of ULM. 

Cofer explained why investiture ceremonies are honorable events due to their history and significance. 

“It is an academic ceremony which has symbolized the continuing pursuit of knowledge since the Middle Ages,” Cofer said. “In academic circles, the term has come to mean the one who will literally dawn the university’s insignia and regalia.” 

Like Cofer said, the ceremony is symbolic and traditional, but it also brings forth the opportunity to welcome a new era and celebrate what achievements will come. 

Erik Burton, an alumnus of ULM and now a recruitment officer, said the second Berry got into office, he was dreaming big and achieving his goals. 

“When I think of President Berry, I think of two types of leaders: a transformational and transcendental leader,” Burton said. “If anyone has ever been in the presence of President Berry, you know that he is always motivating and telling us that anything is possible.” 

Miguel Perez, a former faculty member, said during his time at ULM he and Berry had big goals, many of which were accomplished. 

“In my mind, we were shaping a little slice of ULM’s future,” Perez said. “He was always student-centered and excellence driven […] so I was sure he would make a great leader for the whole ULM family.” 

Perez said Berry didn’t always have it easy. 

When he first started as assistant professor, many people doubted his abilities and said, he didn’t have the skills to manage the department of CIS. When he started as the department head of computing information systems, people said he was “too technical,” according to Perez. 

One of Berry’s favorite movies is “The Greatest Showman,” because of his similarities to P.T. Barnum. 

Christine Berry, the first lady, said Berry is like Barnum because no matter what obstacles he faced, he kept dreaming. 

“Dreaming can be hard and sometimes it can really hurt [but] sometimes it’s right to walk away,” Christine said. “With the support from so many of you, we kept dreaming for almost 17 years even though at times it seemed like an impossible dream.” 

With the help of students, faculty, administration and his wife, Berry’s dream came true. He became the president of a university so close to his heart and finally had the ability to achieve many of his goals. 

 As the song “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman” said, “a million dreams is all it’s gonna take. Oh, a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”