Vincent D. Rougeau installed as first Black president of the College of the Holy Cross

The college’s 33rd president is also the first nonordained member of the church to preside over the Jesuit institution

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In the near 180-year history of the College of the Holy Cross, not one Black American had ever taken seat as president — until Vincent D. Rougeau was inaugurated on Friday, Oct. 22 in a landmark achievement.

With the induction, Rougeau also became the first “layperson,” a nonordained member of the Catholic Church, to preside over the Jesuit institution located in Worceser, Massachusetts.

Named president earlier in July, Rougeau was honored at Friday’s inauguration ceremony with a line of students cheering on their new leader as he and fellow dignitaries proceeded from the school’s Hart Center to the Luth Athletic Complex, per the Telegram & Gazette.

“Through a dynamic expression of today’s Jesuit mission, we will lead Holy Cross to realize its full potential as one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the world,” Rougeau said before attendees at the ceremony, according to Mass Live

“At Holy Cross, we accept that our world is knotty and imperfect. We believe that the best preparation for the challenges of the 21st century is a broad liberal education rooted in discovery, and amplified by our Catholic intellectual traditions,” he continued.

Board of Trustees Chair Richard H. Patterson said Holy Cross is lucky to have someone with the “skill, talent and moral compass” of Rougeau at the helm as they navigate the future of the institution, per Mass Live.

“With Vince Rougeau, we have a leader whose intimate knowledge of higher education, whose faith and commitment to Catholic social teaching … whose ability to communicate effectively to diverse audiences … and whose perspectives on today’s complex global issues will serve us very, very well,” Patterson said.

Formerly a law professor and associate dean for academic affairs at Notre Dame, then serving as the dean of the Boston College Law School, Rogeau was unanimously selected by the board to assume the role in February according to the college’s official announcement.

“We are thrilled to welcome Vincent to the Holy Cross community, and look forward to his leadership in building on the College’s success of the past decade.” Patterson said in the annoucement. “Vincent brings the strategic vision, deep experience as a faculty member and administrator, and commitment to liberal arts education that will allow him to lead Holy Cross in meeting the many challenges facing higher education today.”

“Both his scholarship and his leadership demonstrate his profound dedication to Catholic social teaching and to educating students toward seeking justice and making a meaningful difference in our world,” Patterson added.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Holy Cross community as its new president,” said Rougeau in the announcement. “I have long admired the College for its academic excellence, its talented students and accomplished alumni, its dedicated faculty and staff and its unique place as our nation’s only Jesuit, Catholic liberal arts college. Our current moment in history cries out for the mission-driven education that Holy Cross provides, and I am very excited about what this community can accomplish in the years ahead.”

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