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Johansen era starts with pageantry at Marylhurst

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO, 
Judith Johansen proudly wears the Great Seal of Marylhurst University after her installation as the school’s new president on Sunday. The event was held with high ceremony at St. Anne’s Chapel. Behind Johansen is Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

In a ceremony that combined much seriousness, pageantry and joy, Judith Johansen was inaugurated as the 13th president of Marylhurst University on Sunday afternoon.

It had been 24 years since Marylhurst had observed such an occasion, due to the remarkably long service of Nancy Wilgenbusch as president, and it seemed to have everything such an event could ask for.

This included weather so perfect that Johansen joked that the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary had probably been praying about it for weeks. The campus fairly gleamed in the sun.

'I'm a huge ham and I am really enjoying this,' Johansen said. 'Next to a wedding, it doesn't get any better than this.'

While Johansen was thrilled for herself, she was even more thrilled for her school.

'This day is even more about Marylhurst University,' she said. 'This is about our new beginning, and I am so excited about it.'

Under any circumstances it would have been a gala day, but making Johansen's inauguration even more special was the presence of her long-time friend, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

In speaking to the audience in St. Anne's Chapel, Kulongoski praised Johansen, saying, 'Her decency and spirit never fails. The word to describe Judy is 'restless.' She grows and finds unchartered paths. Now her path has led her to beautiful Marylhurst University.

'Judy has had one success after another with her leadership style. She always raises the game of everyone around her.'

Addressing Johansen, Kulongoski said, 'Judy, you are the right person at the right place at the right time. You have a new home at Marylhurst University.'

The sound of bagpipes from the Sir James McDonald Pipe Band signaled the start of the pageant to St. Anne's Chapel, and a series of speakers kept the high esteem flowing for Johansen. But they also charged her with continuing and expanding the mission of Marylhurst to educate the underserved people of the Northwest.

Speakers included:

n Brenda Suteu, representing the alumni of Marylhurst University.

n Jan Dabrowski, representing the faculty of Marylhurst.

n Sister Joan Saalfeld of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, founders of the university.

n Andy MacRitchie of the Marylhurst University Board of Trustees.

It was Wilgenbusch, Johansen's predecessor and mentor, who performed the installation of the president. She praised her friend's potential for success in the position.

Wilgenbusch also joked, 'Judy has a great sense of humor. Why else would she want to be a university president?'

On the serious side, Wilgenbusch had some advice: 'You will have great successes. You will also have some jim-dandy failures. Just keep showing up.'

Johansen's buoyancy and lighthearted pleasure in everything seemed to fill the entire occasion. She dipped her knees when Wilgenbusch placed the great seal around her neck, then commented, 'This is heavy. I love it!'

Johansen's background is in business and public service, not in the usual academic qualifications.

'I am not your traditional university president,' she said.

On that note, Johansen drew gales of laughter when she noted, 'Admittedly, I don't have the breadth of experience of a small town mayor.'

But Johansen quickly moved onto her serious side. Citing the story of her friend, Egil 'Bud' Krogh, who was caught up in the Watergate Scandal, she promised to 'hardwire' Marylhurst students for morality and ethics and not simply provide education.

'This is where I belong,' Johansen told the audience. 'I want to be part of a team that lifts people. I am committed to the dignity of each individual.'