The inauguration celebration of University of Maine President Paul Ferguson officially concludes on Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Collins Center for the Arts.
The inauguration, which will formally install Ferguson as president after nearly a year of service, caps off a week of activities and events centered on leadership.
The events, which began with the Center for Undergraduate Research Academic Showcase, included two distinguished speakers: retired Admiral Gregory G. Johnson, a University of Maine System trustee and Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
The events accompanying the inauguration were funded entirely by private donations and sponsors, said Janet Waldron, vice president for administration and finance at UMaine.
Many were already scheduled to take place before the inauguration date was decided, and administration chose the date of the inauguration based around these activities.
“The grad expo and the undergraduate research expo happen annually,” said UMaine spokesman Ron Lisnet. “They sort of dovetail nicely with the other activities we planned on having.”
The inauguration itself is taking place this late in Ferguson’s presidency in order to “provide more opportunity for progress to be in place,” Waldron said.
The two speakers were chosen based on the “leadership” theme of the week.
Johnson, a UMaine graduate and Maine resident, had an extensive 36-year Navy career and retired as a four-star admiral. Currently, he is an outside director of CACI International — an IT service company that helps provide solutions in defense and security for companies and the Department of Defense — and has taken on leadership roles throughout his career.
“As a UMaine grad and with his extensive career, he definitely fits the topic of leadership,” Lisnet said.
Goodwin, a world-renowned journalist and best-selling author, also has extensive knowledge of leadership through her work with history. Her book “Team of Rivals: Leadership Lessons from Abraham Lincoln” reached The New York Times bestseller list within its first week of being published and is currently in the process of being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg.
Her speech centered primarily around the life and experiences of Abraham Lincoln, and how the man’s exceptional leadership qualities allowed him to become the memorable figure we all know today.
Goodwin cited nine main qualities that made Lincoln a great leader, chief among these was his capacity to listen to differing points of view, his ability to share success with others and his willingness to shoulder the blame for the failures of others.
“Early on he showed he a determination to rise above his situation on the frontier,” Goodwin said of Lincoln. “His goal was to leave the world a better place for his having lived in it.”
Goodwin’s speech came with a hefty fee. However, Waldron assures the cost is not being incurred by the state or the university.
“Her standard speaking fee is $45,000, which is consistent with a nationally recognized person of her stature,” Waldron wrote in an email. “There are no state dollars being used for Leadership Week, including the Inauguration. The cost will be funded with private dollars, coming from donors and sponsors.”
Goodwin’s career has yielded an extensive list of accomplishments. A sports journalist and historian, she was the first female journalist ever allowed in the Red Sox locker room, served as an assistant to Lyndon B. Johnson during his presidency and has authored numerous books, including “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys,” which was made into a TV miniseries, and “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.”
“This private sponsorship allows the University to bring a world acclaimed historian and author of this caliber to campus for an address that is totally free and open to students and the public,” Waldron wrote.
For now, the full cost of the inauguration can’t be determined.
“We won’t know the exact cost for a couple of weeks after all invoices are in and accounted for,” Waldron wrote.