GROVE CITY — Seven months after being appointed as the ninth president of Grove City College, Paul McNulty on Monday officially was inaugurated.
“There are no words at all to express adequately the appreciation that I have for all that has transpired here today,” McNulty said.
The ceremony took place in Harbison Chapel on campus. McNulty, a former U.S. assistant attorney general who replaced retired President Richard Jewell, is a 1980 graduate of the college.
“Welcome home, Paul,” said Ken Starr, president of Baylor University and a former U.S. Solicitor General.
Starr, who used to work with McNulty at the U.S. Department of Justice, spoke on faith, saying that freedom of religion, human rights and higher education have a long history together.
He noted that many older universities in the United States, such as Harvard and Yale, were formed with strong religious missions. However, he said Grove City College continues its religious mission.
“Paul, may that light continue to shine deep in the 21st century,” Starr said.
John Ashcroft, a former U.S. Attorney General and a former governor of Missouri, said the college is lucky to have someone as experienced as McNulty as president.
Ashcroft, who spoke primarily on the topic of liberty, said that the most important job of a culture is to transfer values from one generation to the next.
“Faith is at the core of it all,” Ashcroft said.
He said the founding documents of the U.S. say that everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“At the heart of it all is liberty,” Ashcroft said.
He said liberty is a value, but democracy is a process. He said the fragmented nature of the U.S. government is important so as to prevent sweeping changes.
Changing a Las Vegas tourism slogan, Ashcroft said “what happens at Grove City does not stay at Grove City.” He said students can go out and make an impact.
The college’s Presidential Medallion was presented to McNulty by college trustee Chairman David Rathburn.
“The medallion conveys the privileges, rights and responsibilities of the office of the president of Grove City College,” said Rathburn, who is a 1979 Grove City graduate.
He said the most important action a college board of trustees can take is to select a president.
Rathburn noted that when the search committee took that action, it voted unanimously to hire McNulty.
In his speech, McNulty spoke about the future.
He said that the college is in a strong position, but it does not know what challenges it will face.
McNulty said that there are two ways that the Bible advises to think about the future: one is to speak of moral duty and the other is to realize that nothing happens apart from God’s will.
“The future of Grove City College is in good hands. Not my hands; his hands,” McNulty said.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by students, faculty, alumni and others, including three former Grove City College presidents: Charles MacKenzie, 1971-1991; John Moore, 1996-2003; and Jewell, 2003-2014.