Inauguration: Dr. Fred Pestello

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Inauguration: Dr. Fred Pestello

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Friday, Oct. 3 marked a celebratory occasion in Saint Louis University’s history, as the school installed its 33rd president, Dr. Fred Pestello. The new president was formally initiated at an inauguration ceremony held in Chaifetz Arena, which included a variety of speakers and performers to welcome Pestello as the University’s new leader.

The event was SLU’s first inauguration ceremony since 1987. It began with a formal prelude by the St. Louis Metropolitan Ensemble and an academic procession of various stakeholders and speakers, including the Inaugural Committee, Pestello, Interim President Bill Kauffman and SLU’s Board of Trustees.

“Today, I get to be an active participant in making history at this university as we inaugurate Saint Louis University’s first permanent lay president, Dr. Fred Pestello,” said Joe Adorjan, chairman of SLU’s Board of Trustees.

Adorjan was the last of many stakeholders to speak at the ceremony before the official investiture and inaugural address of Pestello. He presented Pestello with two symbolic items on behalf of the University: the Chain of Office, to represent the president’s leadership position, and the University Mace, to represent SLU’s independence from external influence. The acceptance of these symbols was followed by the address, which Pestello began by humbly and tearfully thanking his family.

“One lesson I learned long ago is that little of significance is ever accomplished alone,” said Pestello in addressing his wife, Fran, and her support. He also comically remarked on enjoying the attentiveness he was receiving from his two children, Vitina and Freddie, during his speech.

Pestello’s address touched on the many positive and inspiring aspects that a university exemplifies and the extraordinary achievements that can occur at an educational institution.

“Our unquenchable thirst for truth, our deep longing to understand, causes us to ponder, speculate, and wonder,” said Pestello. “This stirring within our minds and hearts is what it means to be human … The university is a place where this unceasing quest is rigorously and systematically pursued.”

Speaking to SLU’s Jesuit identity, Pestello addressed the University’s faith-based mission and the history of the Jesuit education’s focus on justice. He quoted the school’s mission statement, saying that the result of the education that SLU provides is one that allows students to not only be successful in their careers but to also lead more meaningful and purposeful lives.

“In the Jesuit tradition, our work is directly linked to the world in which we live and learn,” Pestello stated. “Thus, we who are Saint Louis University forge a path that serves a higher purpose by contributing to the greater good.”

The new president discussed SLU’s history, from its establishment by Bishop DuBourg in the 1800s, to its encounters with anti-Catholicism mobs, to its international expansion and campus development in Madrid. Pestello also touched on the University’s historical development of the first lay board of trustees at a Catholic institution and the school’s many educational expansions and advancements.

Pestello then touched on the future of the University and what must be addressed in order for the school to successfully move forward. He said that the community needs to address the questions of what the university must become, how it can remain affordable while improving educational quality, and how it can do more for and with its neighbors. Pestello said he seeks to find answers to these questions with the University in the weeks to come.

“Our next step forward begins today,” said Pestello. “Higher purpose. Greater good.”

Pestello: SLU’s new president gave an inaugural   address at the ceremony after being formally initiated. Javier Muro de Nadal / Stafff Photographer

Pestello: SLU’s new president gave an inaugural
address at the ceremony after being formally initiated.
Javier Muro de Nadal / Stafff Photographer