The Xavier University Music Department offers two undergraduate degree programs: the Bachelor of Arts degree in music with a concentration in a performance area (instrument or voice), in theory or in history, and the Bachelor of Science degree in music ed
Congratulations to Dr. C. Reynold Verret, President Xavier University
On Monday, Xavier kicks off a five-day inaugural celebration for its new president, C. Reynold Verret, on its Gert Town campus.
The daily events will be capped by an investiture ceremony Friday during which Verret and his office will be blessed by Archbishop Gregory Aymond.
(Photo: Dr. Reynold Verret, Advocate staff photo by John McCusker)
The celebration will be the city's first public introduction to Verret, who started work in July without much fanfare.
Verret, 61, was already familiar with New Orleans, having lived here in the early 1990s while working as an assistant professor of chemistry at Tulane University.
Today, Verret talks often with his predecessor, relying upon him for history and context, or what he calls "the how and the why" of Xavier.
At least for the near future, comparisons are inevitable for Verret, as they are for anyone who steps into the shoes of a giant.
As board members noted when they chose Verret, he and Francis have much in common.
Both came from humble beginnings and are men of deep Catholic faith and intellect.
Still, Verret is distinctive in a way that should help him to shape his own image as Xavier's president.
After emigrating from Haiti as a young child, he excelled in school, then earned science degrees from Columbia University and MIT.He's also spent his career trying to bridge science with the humanities, which he calls "social glue.
He can recite poetry, loves the theater, grew up singing in church choirs and even plays the clarinet - "badly," he says.
He also is deeply curious, in a way that has defined his career.
After college, he worked in labs, moving from the Howard Hughes Institute of Immunology at Yale and the Center for Cancer Research at MIT to teaching posts at Tulane, Morehouse School of Medicine and Clark Atlanta University, where he rose to chair the chemistry department.Then he altered his path, moving into administration at three colleges including Savannah State University, the oldest public historically black university in Georgia, where he worked until last year as provost and chief academic officer.As a researcher, Verret studied cytotoxic T-cells in the human body to determine how they find and eliminate cells that cause cancer and other diseases.
As a college administrator, that same curiosity drives him to try to understand what makes his students tick.
"He's not the kind of president you have to sit in awe of.
He wants to know what his students are thinking, what they're researching and what their greatest challenges are," said an MIT classmate and longtime friend, the Rev. Gregory Chisholm, who will travel to New Orleans from his church, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Harlem, to give a homily at Thursday afternoon's inauguration Mass.
Friday's investiture ceremony will employ all of the office's traditional symbols, including a presidential chain engraved with the college seal and the names of Verret's five predecessors.
As the service begins, a grand marshal will walk in front, carrying the university's 27-pound mace made of copper, brass and carved mahogany.
Verret will follow, wearing his red and gray MIT robe.
When he walks back up the aisle after the ceremony, he will be wearing the black and gold Xavier presidential robe and cap, with the presidential chain draped around his neck.
In primary school, Reynold watched Monique after school while their mother was at work.
"People stepped in and made a way for me," said Reynold Verret, who sees "removing the barriers" to education as a big part of his new job.
The Xavier community already has an "esprit de corps" that he didn't see on other campuses, he said, noting how students motivate each other, pushing those who miss a study group or skip class.
He views his role as helping those students to think bigger, he said.
So whenever he meets a new student, he quickly dispenses with the usual questions about classes and majors before getting to his point.
"My real question is: 'What do you want to do?
What are your aspirations?' " he said.
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