Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Officials from the University System of Georgia, and faculty, staff and student representatives from Clayton State University, heaped praise on the school's president, Tim Hynes, on Friday, but he confessed he would just as soon be working, than be celebrated.
Hynes was formally installed as Clayton State's fourth, permanent president during an investiture ceremony attended by approximately 500 people, in the university's Athletics and Fitness Center. The ceremony was filled with academic formalities, as Hynes received the university's presidential medallion, and was charged by University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis, Jr., to be an outstanding leader.
Hynes came to Clayton State in May 2009, as the institution's interim president, following the departure of former president, Thomas K. Harden. In February of this year, the University System's Board of Regents voted unanimously to name Hynes as the school's permanent leader.
"We get back to work here on Monday, and I'm looking forward to it," Hynes said, after the ceremony. "I enjoy celebrations, but I do not like being the subject of those celebrations."
Hynes' investiture ceremony drew a wide range of his family, Clayton State faculty members, students, staff, and local K-12 school officials, business leaders, and government officials. It also brought together presidents from 15 institutions within the University System of Georgia, and representatives from another 10 institutions, as well as a delegate from one of Georgia's private schools, Mount Berry-based Berry College.
There were even foreign dignitaries, who introduced themselves to Hynes after the ceremony, informing him they came from countries, including Switzerland and Argentina.
But, Davis said, university system officials, and Hynes' friends, had to convince him to have a ceremony in the first place. "The fact is that Dr. Hynes has been much more focused on his vision for moving Clayton State forward, than on any ceremony," the chancellor told attendees. "However, we finally prevailed upon Dr. Hynes that the campus, and the Clayton State community, would really appreciate a formal inauguration, with all of its medieval pomp and circumstance."
Davis charged Hynes to lead Clayton State firmly, fairly and humanely, while maintaining a "delicate balance between compassion for the individual, and commitment to the institution."
The chancellor also charged Hynes to "create an even higher level of academic and leadership excellence" at the university, and to encourage faculty and students to continually push "the limits of knowledge."
When Davis asked Hynes if he accepted the charge, Clayton State's president answered with an enthusiastic, "I do!"
Hynes then took the podium, and offered his inaugural address. At times, he switched from impersonating "Yoda," from "Star Wars," to referencing the film, "Dead Poet's Society," to quoting a Blanche Dubois line from the Tennessee Williams play, "A Streetcar Named Desire."
At the heart of his address, however, he outlined three premises for moving the school forward: Creating conditions for learning that prepare students to excel economically; develop partnerships that allow the university to provide students with a 21st Century education, and adapting to changes in society, and the community, and to whatever challenges the school finds itself facing.
"Clayton Junior College, 40 years ago, provided a foundation for later learning, and technical skills of the 20th century," Hynes said. "So, too, will the combination of liberal arts education, professional preparation programs, and applied knowledge and skills, of Clayton State University undergraduate and graduate programs prepare students for a 21st Century economy."
Prior to coming to Clayton State, Hynes spent 13 years as the provost at the University of West Georgia. Twice, while he was at West Georgia, he was called upon to serve as that university's interim president. Before his tenure at West Georgia, Hynes spent 18 years as a member of the University of Louisville faculty.
But, Hynes said he does not see himself leaving Clayton State for any other jobs. After his investiture ceremony, he said he plans to stay at Clayton State "as along as they will have me."
The university system's chancellor, and the chairman of its Board of Regents, told attendees they believe they have placed the university in good hands. Willis Potts, the chairman of the Board of Regents, called Hynes an "asset" to the university system, and the "right person, at the right time" to lead Clayton State. "He exemplifies the caliber of individual that the Board of Regents entrusts with guiding our precious institutions," Potts said. "He strongly believes in collaboration, and the power of partnerships, and has the ability to move Clayton State forward."