Photos: President Jim Ryan’s Inauguration Weekend Was A Series of Powerful Moments

October 22, 2018 By Rob Seal, Rob Seal,

Before this weekend, the University of Virginia had only inaugurated a new president eight times in its 200-year history. But even in that small sample, President Jim Ryan’s inauguration had its own character and tone.

It started Friday morning with a celebration of faculty research, included a gathering of the University community on the Lawn for his swearing-in – complete with an important address from Ryan – and stretched into Saturday with a 5k run/walk designed to draw UVA and Charlottesville together, a celebration of local service organizations and an emotional storytelling event. 

University of Virginia photographers were along for the ride throughout the weekend. They captured images of Ryan running hand-in-hand with his daughter during the 5k, the crowds that filled the Lawn for his swearing-in, and much more.

Take a look below at some of the moments from the weekend.

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 Crowd of people inside of the Rotunda pointing to the sky

Nursing professor Tim Cunningham was one of several faculty members who presented research during Friday’s Profiles of Discovery event. As a demonstration of how perception changes, he asked attendees to point to the sky and then draw an imaginary circle above their heads. Then asked them to point down and make a circle in the same direction. Automatically, most people reverse the direction of their circles.

Research, teaching excellence, citizenship and democracy were the featured themes during presentations and discussions at the Rotunda Dome Room.

 Foot of a graduate walking

Prior to his inauguration, Ryan found a pair of sneakers presented to him by the Seven Society, UVA’s most famous secret society. He opted to wear the sneakers, which bear the society’s seal, throughout the weekend, including during his swearing-in.

Ryan’s predecessor, Teresa A. Sullivan, was on hand for his inauguration. During the procession, she offered a first-bump to Professor Gweneth West, who serves as UVA’s grand marshal for Final Exercises and other seminal University events.

 President Jim Ryan Standing at a podium giving a speech during graduation

Ryan’s address during his inauguration proved to be an important one for the UVA community, as he articulated a vision for the University’s future.

The Community Bridges 5K Run/Walk drew participants of all skill levels from the University and Charlottesville community – and beyond – for a run across Grounds and through nearby communities.

 President Jim Ryan Running holding the hand of his daughter

The weekend was also a big one for the Ryan family. The University’s new president ran the 5K with his daughter, Phebe Ryan.

The event underscored two of Ryan’s passions: running (he’s a competitive marathoner) and a dedication to building stronger ties between the University and the community that surrounds it.

 Man dressed in a unicorn runs down the road

The 5K was designed to be accessible for runners of all levels, including mythical creatures.

 DJ at the Run/walk celebration

After the run/walk concluded, many of the participants stopped by the Celebration of Service, an event designed to showcase area public service organizations. In addition to information, food and events, the event had DJs providing the music.

The Community Bridges 5K raised $25,000 for the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, which supports more than 250 nonprofit organizations in Charlottesville.

 Man puts orange and blue balnket on President Ryan

Alumnus Paul Ereng, a former UVA runner and 1988 Olympian and gold medalist, presented Ryan with a Maasai blanket. Ereng, who is Kenyan, said that during his time at UVA, other people protected and looked after him, and that he hoped Ryan would do the same for others as the University’s leader. 

The final event of inauguration weekend was Double Take, an opportunity for members of the University community to share their stories with others. One of the participants was Dr. Vivian Pinn, who was both the only woman and the only minority in her class at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. 

Woman standing at a microphone on a stage

During the event, Professor Sherri Moore talked about her mother’s failing health, the early death of her husband and how those tragedies created a path to a future she could never have imagined. All the storytellers told deeply personal stories, expressing a variety of identities and experiences, with a focus on the theme of building bridges.


Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

University Spokesperson Office of University Communications