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Pacific Union College Officially Installs New President

In September of 2009, Dr. Heather J. Knight became the new president of Pacific Union College. On April 15, 2010, the college hosted the official inaugural ceremony and installation of Knight as 21st president.

In a program replete with regalia colors, inspiring music, and the PUC Church filled with faculty, staff, students, community members, educational and church leaders, and family and friends, Knight was welcomed with speeches of accolade and advice. PUC’s history and future were celebrated by the entire college body and representatives from across the country. Brief speeches were presented by Napa County Supervisor Diane Dillon, St. Helena Mayor Del Britton, Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities President Jonathan Brown, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists General Vice President Ella Simmons, Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities President and Walla Walla University President John McVay, Andrews University President Niels-Erik Andreasen, University of the Pacific Jacoby Center Director and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Emeritus Robert Benedetti, and University of the Pacific Provost Phillip N. Gilbertson.

Dr. Knight was also presented with gifts from four representative groups at PUC: a crystal bell from the administrators, a miniature grape vine from the faculty, a painting by former PUC art department chair Vernon Nye by the staff, and the promise of a hot-air balloon ride from the student body.

In the inaugural homily, Pioneer Memorial Church (Andrews University) senior pastor Dwight Nelson spoke about “level five leaders,” the best of the best, whose defining characteristic is humility. Recounting Solomon’s opportunity upon being recognized as king to be given anything he asked for from God, Nelson asked Knight to consider what she would ask for. Solomon admitted that he did not have the wisdom to carry out his leadership tasks; he asked for a discerning heart. Nelson expanded on this prayer, suggesting that it be Knight’s prayer: “Give me a discerning heart… to know the difference between the temporal and the eternal. The difference between the wanting and the needing. The difference between the popular and the principal. The difference between the good and the best, the difference between the wrong and the right.… God will grant you, President Knight, the wisdom to know the difference if you ask Him.”

Following the presentation of the presidential medallion, installed by PUC Board of Trustees chairman and Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists president Ricardo Graham and immediate past PUC president Richard Osborn, Knight gave an inaugural address. She expressed gratitude, spoke about PUC’s history and calling, and presented her platform of “The Adventist Advantage” as well as what she sees as “the PUC advantage.”

Knight called this time a “moment for PUC to reaffirm our rich history and heritage and also to envision a bold and significant feature, one in which we prove responsive to the major opportunities and challenges facing American higher education today, and one in which we articulate the great value of an education framed in the Christian liberal arts tradition.”

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