030813-csu-president001Central State University President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond was officially installed as the eighth person and the first woman to lead the historically black school in its 126 years during an inauguration ceremony Thursday.

Jackson-Hammond, who has held the university’s top office since July 1, was presented the presidential medallion during the ceremony, which drew about 850 students, staff, faculty, alumni and other supporters. Her ceremony was timed to correspond with the university’s Charter Day celebration.

Speakers at the event asked those attending to pledge their support for Jackson-Hammond’s vision for the school’s future.

“You are truly the right person for these times and the right person for this university,” said former President John Garland, a 1971 alumnus who led the university for 15 years before retiring in June.

“A new president speaks to the renewal of an institution,” he said. “We are getting better. We are becoming stronger. And we are being more focused on academic excellence.”

Jackson-Hammond’s former colleagues who attended the ceremony praised her style, grace, social and leadership skills and “intolerance for mediocrity.” Her career in higher education date back to 1987, and most recently she was a lead consultant for H&H Educational Consultants and provost at Coppin State University in Baltimore.

Since taking over as president, Jackson-Hammond — who was just named one of 25 leading women in higher education nationwide by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education — has worked to establish a new culture on campus around the tenants of service, protocol and civility.

She also established six “compelling priorities” for the university: to provide a quality academic experience for students; recruit those who are academically and financially prepared for college; improve retention rates; reduce students’ time to degree; produce graduates who have the knowledge, skills and dispositions for advanced studies or professional careers; and operate in an efficient and effective manner. Read FULL