Arcadia University to Inaugurate 22nd President, Dr. Ajay Nair, Oct. 13

By Caitlin Burns | September 25, 2018

Arcadia University is proud to announce that it will inaugurate its 22nd president, Dr. Ajay Nair, during an installation ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 13. The ceremony is the culmination of a week of events celebrating the inauguration theme, “Reimagining Our Higher Education Community: From Inclusion to Justice.” The events, which begin on Monday, Oct. 8, will include distinguished guests from Arcadia and others in the higher education, literary, and social justice communities.

Speakers scheduled for the installation ceremony include Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney; Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym; Art Haywood, state senator representing Pennsylvania’s 4th District; Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners; Dr. Thomas Parham, president of California State University; and Dr. James Wagner, president emeritus of Emory University in Georgia.

“The inauguration of Dr. Ajay Nair as 22nd president of Arcadia University marks a new chapter in the University’s esteemed history,” said Alison (Aaron) Madsen, Esq., chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and an alumna. “The week of events celebrates the core values inherent in Arcadia, as well as the vision, boldness, and expertise for which Dr. Nair was selected. We look forward to celebrating the week with members of the Arcadia community both in the U.S. and around the world, partners in the Philadelphia and Montgomery County areas, and with higher education leaders.”

For more information about the Inauguration of President Nair, visit

About President Nair
Dr. Nair, who assumed office as president of Arcadia on April 2, 2018, is a nationally recognized expert in student affairs issues and an accomplished social justice, race, and ethnicity scholar. He is the first person of color to be appointed president at Arcadia and among the first college or university presidents in the U.S. of Indian-American descent. Prior to leading Arcadia, Dr. Nair served as senior vice president and dean of Campus Life at Emory University, where he led nearly 1,300 employees and provided strategic financial oversight for an annual budget of more than $79 million. He has served on a wide range of university and civic boards and organizations, including as director of the Division for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice for NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education).

Dr. Nair held executive leadership positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and the University of Virginia. In his distinguished career in higher education, Dr. Nair has held faculty positions at each of the aforementioned universities, as well as the World Language Institute in Kwangju, South Korea.

Dr. Nair’s current book project focuses on the state of multiculturalism in higher education and aims to present a new model for diversity and inclusion in higher education. His co-edited book, Desi Rap: Hip-Hop in South Asian America, focuses on the complexities of second-generation South Asian American identity.

Dr. Nair earned a Doctor of Philosophy and a Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University.

Selected schedule of events:

Monday, Oct. 8
LGBTQ Awareness and Ally Training

10 a.m. – noon and 1 – 3 p.m.
Common’s Great Room
The Office of Institutional Diversity’s Civility in Action Leadership Discussion Series will facilitate two LGBTQ awareness and ally training sessions with Dr. Tchet Dereic Dorman, Germantown Friends School director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Hillary Blecker, co-founder of the Blue Door Group. Pre-registration is required, as only 50 spots are available per session.

Tuesday, Oct. 9
Community Service Day

Community and Civic Engagement Center Interactive Service Fair
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

“Cuentos: The 20G Gang” Documentary
3 – 5 p.m.
Join The Office of Institutional Diversity and Community and Civic Engagement Center (CCEC) in a day of learning and service. In Stiteler Auditorium, view the “Cuentos: The 20G Gang” documentary and participate in a panel with filmmaker Gil Gonzalez and radio talk show host and community activist Solomon Jones to discuss the 20G Gang, the oldest Puerto Rican gang in Pennsylvania, and the influences of gentrification.

Discover how you can serve the community at CCEC’s interactive service fair in the University Commons, where stations focused on bringing awareness to a variety of social justice initiatives. Whether you’re interested in writing letters to the government or attending a social justice oriented event, you can find a way to have a voice and improve your community. Another way to participate is to donate writing supplies at Grey Towers Castle and CCEC, 2005 Church Road. Supplies will be donated as part of the Stamp Out Despair campaign with First Friends, an organization aiding immigrants in detention centers in New York and New Jersey.

Wednesday, Oct. 10
Common Read Lecture

Dead Man Walking, with Sister Helen Prejean
Kuch Alumni Gymnasium, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
This year’s Common Read program brings Sister Helen Prejean to the Arcadia campus to discuss her book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, which has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and helped to shape the Catholic Church’s newly vigorous opposition to state executions. A book signing in the Great Room will follow the discussion. Go to the Arcadia website for more information.

Thursday, Oct. 11
Glenside Knight Parade and Community Food Truck Festival and Mural Lighting

5:30 – 9 p.m., Easton Road
Sponsored by the Downtown Glenside Community Partnership, Arcadia University, and Cheltenham Township, the event will tempt taste buds with cuisine from wonderful local eateries and over 25 regional food trucks. At 6:45 p.m., Arcadia students and renowned muralist and adjunct professor David Guinn will light the new LED mural at the Glenside station underpass.

Friday, Oct. 12
Presidential Panel

3 – 5 p.m., Great Room
Dr. Nair, along with California State University President Thomas Parham and Montgomery County Community College former President Karen Stout, now president of nonprofit Achieving the Dream, will discuss social justice from a university presidential perspective. After an opening discussion, attendees can pose questions in a Q&A session. A reception will follow.   

Saturday, Oct. 13
Family Weekend Carnival and Picnic Lunch
11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Front Lawn of Grey Towers Castle
Hosted by Arcadia’s student organizations, faculty, staff, students, and their families and friends can enjoy fun foods, crafts, and activities for guests of all ages. Arcadia students can swipe their Knight card for a meal exchange; tickets for adults are $10, children ages 6 to 12 are $5, and children under 6 get in free.

Empty Bowl Painting
11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Grey Towers Castle Patio
Paint a bowl for the 25th annual Empty Bowl. The CCEC will have bowls for those attending Fall Fest to paint and glaze. Hosted by CCEC each year in November, the Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner raises thousands of dollars for regional and national organizations combating hunger and homelessness.

Installation Procession
2:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Full academic regalia processional.

Installation Ceremony
3:30 – 5 p.m., Haber Green
Speakers include Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney; Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners; and leaders in the higher education community, including Dr. Thomas Parnham, president of California State University, and Dr. James Wagner, president emeritus of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

Inauguration Celebration
5 – 9 p.m., Haber Green
Celebrate Arcadia’s unique global perspective with an Inauguration celebration that brings together cultures from around the world. Attendees can taste foods inspired by Southeast Asian, Latino, and American cultures, while participating in activities like henna art and lucky bamboo planting.