On the afternoon of September 18, it seemed that all roads led not to Rome but to Chicago, specifically, the “arena” known as Hermann Hall Auditorium on Illinois Tech’s Mies Campus, as Alan W. Cramb was inaugurated as the university’s ninth president. Hundreds of faculty members dressed in the regalia of their respective alma maters processed across campus to the ceremony as bagpipers and drummers announced their arrival. Not simply pomp and circumstance, the procession was for many of the faculty a show of respect for someone who has represented them for the past seven years as provost. Indira Samarasekera, former colleague and friend of Cramb’s for more than three decades, also hailed the new president in her keynote inaugural speech.
The president emeritus of the University of Alberta likened Cramb’s approach to the presidency as that of Theodore Roosevelt’s “man in the arena” from Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” about a figure who has the courage, tenacity, and talent to head a noble cause.
“I have watched Alan over the last 25 years with awe and have witnessed him explain the most complex of ideas in exquisite simplicity to those who have a full range of educational backgrounds,” said Samarasekera. “Alan’s gift of oratory along with his intellect, vision, and capacity for clear-sighted leadership will be the hallmarks of his presidency. Alan Cramb, your ninth president, will be the man in the arena.”
Other speakers who have known Cramb during his Illinois Tech tenure, such as Board of Trustees Chair Bud Wendorf (ME ’71), agreed that he is the right person to lead Illinois Tech. “Alan has proven time and again that he has not just the intelligence but also the enthusiasm and the leadership skills needed to move IIT forward,” Wendorf said.
Student Government Association President Rahul Wadhwani (EE 4th year) recalled the interaction his classmates had with Cramb at various student events and meetings. While the president may be a gifted orator, what most impressed Wadhwani was the full breadth of Cramb’s communications strengths.
“President Cramb’s approachability and willingness to listen to students and work with them has really stood out to all of the students who I speak with; I’d like to thank him for that,” said Wadhwani. “He’s won [the students’] trust and respect.”