Ken Shaw inaugurated as Southern’s 27th president, the first as an alumni

Ron Smith shakes President Ken Shaw's hand. Moments before, Smith placed the presidential medal around Shaw's neck.
Thursday, September 30, 2021. (Photo by: Xander Ordinola)
Ron Smith shakes President Ken Shaw's hand. Moments before, Smith placed the presidential medal around Shaw's neck. Thursday, September 30, 2021. (Photo by: Xander Ordinola)

Last Thursday, Ken Shaw was inaugurated as the university’s 27th and first alumni president. The ceremony was held in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists, with limited seating to accommodate social distancing. People unable to attend in-person watched the livestream on the Collegedale SDA Church Vimeo channel.

Those who filled the sanctuary included Southern alumni, faculty, staff, Student Association leaders, Shaw’s family and others. Dignitaries such as former Southern President Gordon Bietz, Southern alumnus and Tennessee District 29 Representative Greg Vital and Collegedale Mayor Katie Lamb spoke at the podium.

“We share a quotation from Shannon Alder, who said, ‘One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone,’” Bietz said at the inauguration. “Dr. Shaw, we pray for your success. We stand to provide assistance. You are not alone — we belong to each other.”

Union College President Vinita Sauder introduced Shaw after various representatives gave their greetings. 

“Dr. Shaw is a self-confessed math geek,” said Sauder, who has collaborated with Shaw as a fellow Adventist higher-ed president. “… I remember at one of the presidents’ meetings how excited he was that it was about to be Pi Day. Now, unless you’re a math major, you may not know that March 14 is chosen for Pi Day because of the digits three, one and four. … It is rumored that Dr. Shaw knows the first 50 digits of pi, so you’ll need to ask him. Students, those that are watching, please include President Shaw in your next Pi Day celebration so he can enjoy the fun alongside you.”

In his inaugural address, Shaw said the inauguration marked his 122nd day in office.

“Being a mathematician — and one that loves number theory … I am convinced that you’ll want to know the following,” Shaw said. “One hundred and twenty-two is special. It shows up beginning with the 483rd digit of pi. And 483 happens to be 22 squared minus one. Two-two-one, which happens to be the reverse of the digits of how long I’ve been president.” 

After Shaw’s address, Southern Union Conference President Ron Smith presented him with a medallion.

The I Cantori Chamber Choir sang, socially distanced, from the pews in the back of the church on the second floor.

A recording of the inauguration is available to watch on the Collegedale SDA Church Vimeo channel.

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