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Lisa Metcalf

FAU’s Board of Trustees Installs Dr. Mary Jane Saunders as President

BOCA RATON, FL (October 29, 2010) – Florida Atlantic University hosted the installation ceremony of  Dr. Mary Jane Saunders, FAU’s sixth president, today in the Carole and Barry Kaye Auditorium.  The installation ceremony is the main event of a weeklong series of events that began on Sunday, October 24 and will conclude on Saturday, October 30. The inaugural celebration intertwines with the university’s Homecoming festivities. 

“Today is a remarkable day that I share with all of FAU, the general community and my family. I am honored to be the sixth president of Florida Atlantic University,” said Saunders. “I continue my commitment to support students in helping them achieve academic success, to work together with faculty and staff in the pursuit of new goals, and to engage the community as we take FAU to the next level of excellence.”

Themed Making Waves: Celebrating and Cultivating Discovery, Diversity and Distinction, the inauguration was designed to introduce the president to the University’s constituents and provide a platform for the expression of the president’s vision for the future of FAU. It also was an opportunity for the entire university community to welcome her.

Among the honorable guests were Sherry Plymale, a member of the FAU Board of Trustees; Dr. Timothy Lenz, president of the Faculty Senate and a member of the FAU Board of Trustees; Ayden Maher, Student Government president and a member of the FAU Board of Trustees; Romayne Berry, an FAU alumnus and chair of the FAU National Alumni Association; Michael Kaufman, a member of the FAU Foundation Board; Susan Whelchel, mayor of the city of Boca Raton; Adam Hasner, member of the Florida House of Representatives;  Ray Ferrero, Jr., chancellor of Nova Southeastern University; J. David Armstrong, president of Broward College; Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of Florida International University; Norman Tripp, a member of the Florida Board of Governors; Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of Florida’s State University System; Nancy Blosser, chair of the FAU Board of Trustees; and Dr. Michael Schwartz, president emeritus of Cleveland State University.

“Presidential inaugurations are very rare and special occasions at universities. Here at FAU, we have had just five of them in 49 years,” said Blosser. “Today’s historic event offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of occasions such as this and an understanding of the importance of tradition in academic life.”

During the ceremony, President Saunders wore presidential regalia that included the four chevrons on the sleeve of the robe traditionally used only by university presidents. Many universities add to the dignity and beauty of the President’s academic regalia by providing a specially designed medallion that is worn around the neck on a chain. Saunders was presented the FAU President's Medallion, which is a replica of the University Seal. The image at the center of the circular seal depicts ocean waves, the rising sun and the flame of knowledge, evoking thoughts of scholarly work being carried out in a place of great natural beauty. A mace, generally made of wood and clad in metal, was used as a weapon during the Middle Ages. Later, as more powerful military arms were developed, the mace became a symbol of authority.

The University’s Board of Trustees determined the scope and timing of the inauguration, and initiated the planning process by appointing a committee to oversee all aspects of the event, which was led by the co-chairs of the inauguration committee, BOT Member Sherry Plymale and Dr. Mary Ann Gosser-Esquilín, professor in FAU’s department of languages, linguistics and comparative literature. 

“FAU’s distinguished faculty and dedicated students are excited about the opportunity to help turn President Saunders’ plans for the university into reality as she guides FAU through this next stage of academic growth and development,” said Dr. Timothy Lenz, president of the FAU Faculty Senate and member of the Board of Trustees. “Dr. Saunders arrival at FAU heralds a promising new era in leadership of the entire university community.

“It is an honor for me as a student leader to be part of this ceremony today,” said Ayden Maher, president of FAU’s student government.  “President Saunders serves as FAU’s key mentor and role model to all of the university’s students, and her accomplishments at the University help to make our degree that more valuable.”

Saunders was named FAU’s sixth president by unanimous vote of the FAU Board of Trustees on March 3. She began her term of service on June 7, 2010.  Prior to her arrival at FAU, Saunders was provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State University, where she also was founding dean of the College of Science, director of the Biomedical and Health Institute, and a professor in the department of biological, geological and environmental sciences.  Her professional background also includes academic appointments at the National Science Foundation, the University of South Florida, Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia. She is an award-winning cell biology researcher, educator and academic leader who is known nationally for her commitment to public higher education. 

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Saunders holds a B.S. in biology from Boston University and both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  

For more information on FAU’s inaugural activities and a listing of events, visit


About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit

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