Adelphi University will inaugurate Christine M. Riordan as its 10th president Friday in a ceremony expected to draw nearly 1,000 people to the Garden City campus.
Riordan, 51, who took office July 1, is the first woman to lead the private university in its 120-year history.
“We are the longest-standing higher education institution on Long Island,” she said in an interview with Newsday this week. “We are really dedicated to serving the Long Island community — our students as well as the community in general.”
Riordan, formerly the provost of the University of Kentucky, replaced Robert Scott, 75, who led Adelphi for 15 years. She was appointed after an extensive national search.
Over the last few months, she conducted a comprehensive survey of the Adelphi campus community that included a 100-day listening tour of various stakeholders. The feedback, she said, became the foundation of a strategic plan that she plans to implement in June.
Riordan is expected to share more of her vision for the 7,300-student institution’s future at the inauguration, which carries the theme “A Modern University with Deep Roots.”
Friday’s colorful ceremony will include a procession of the school’s deans, faculty and students. Representatives from more than 50 public and private colleges are expected to attend, university officials said.
Robert B. Willumstad, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, will serve as master of ceremonies and officiate. Willumstad, for whom Adelphi’s business school is named, is the former chairman and chief executive of American International Group.
Riordan will receive symbols of the office — the President’s Medallion and a university hood in the school colors of brown and gold.
Kevin Law, director and chief executive officer of the Long Island Association, a business group that advocates for economic development, said he was “immediately impressed” with Riordan when he met her in August.
“I think Adelphi was fortunate to get somebody of her caliber,” said Law, who plans to attend the inauguration ceremony. “She understands Adelphi and the needs of the area. . . . She seems willing to be flexible with programs at Adelphi to help Long Island meet its workforce needs.”
Riordan, like her predecessor Scott, is on the LIA’s board of directors.
As provost of the University of Kentucky, which has more than 30,000 students and a $3 billion budget, Riordan was responsible for advancing academic programs, teaching and scholarship. She served in the post from 2013 to 2015. For five years before that, she was dean of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. In that role, she led a business operation with more than $86 million in revenue. Adelphi has a budget of about $240 million.
“Her style is inclusive, transparent and focused very much on improvement of the university,” said Patrick Coonan, dean of the College of Nursing and Public Health at Adelphi. “It is a very challenging time in higher education, and I think we will be poised to meet those challenges head-on.”