Delaware Valley University Inaugurates 14th President: Reflecting on the Past, Present and Future of the Institution
Benjamin E. Rusiloski, Ph.D. was officially inaugurated as Delaware Valley University's (DelVal) fourteenth president on Friday, October 21, 2022. The inauguration ceremony, which was held in DelVal's Life Sciences Building Auditorium, had more than 350 people in attendance, ranging from students, staff, faculty, trustees, former presidents of DelVal, Dr. Rusiloski's family, his former colleagues, mentors and more.
The Master of Ceremonies and DelVal's Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gloria Oikelome, Ph.D., Ed.D., welcomed all in attendance and established a reoccurring theme that was weaved throughout the various speeches at inauguration, sharing quotes from DelVal's founder, Dr. Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf. The National Farm School was founded by Dr. Krauskopf in 1896 as a solution to poverty, and Dr. Krauskopf did not stop at ensuring educational access and affordability for students, similar to the values that guide Dr. Rusiloski's leadership of DelVal today. "I stand here today  to challenge our students to look beyond themselves and use their education to impact the world around them," said Oikelome.
Representative of DelVal's alumni, James Trainer '82, was inspired by an excerpt from Dr. Krauskopf's writing. "Not unison but concord in the midst of variety, not absolute sameness but harmony in the midst of difference, this is the lesson that nature teaches us in 1,000 different languages and 1,000 different tongues," Dr. Krauskopf wrote. "Alumni first come into the institution as students from many different places and backgrounds with varied interests and lived experiences. We take with us from DelVal, a commitment to the common good, an understanding that we are part of something larger than ourselves, a respect for difference and an appreciation of hard work, all values we know resonate with Dr. Rusiloski," said Trainer '82.
President of the Student Body Government, Areej Alfeen '24, represented the student body at inauguration and discussed Dr. Rusiloski's value in community, support, and connection. "Krauskopf once said, 'It is one of the laws of our being that only in seeking the happiness of others can we find our own.' Our community at DelVal does not fail to show caring and compassion for others. Following in Krauskopf's footsteps, Dr. Ben has become a great example of building a strong campus community, our DelVal family. Dr Ben, thank you for being a great role model to our community, we are excited to see how DelVal grows with your leadership and support," said Alfeen '24.
As speakers at the inauguration referenced quotes of DelVal's founder, Dr. Rusiloski took the podium to thank all in attendance and present his reflections on this momentous day. "As the fourteenth president of DelVal, I stand on a foundation built by many great leaders. You have heard several members of the DelVal community share quotes of our founder today. These quotes explain a great deal of who we are as a community and institution. They really are the basis of our core values: Teach, learn and serve with passion and commitment. Act as one learning community with one purpose. Value the world of ideas and differences. Live each day with integrity. Respect all people. And pursue excellence. The core values are and always will be the foundation of who we are as an institution. It's up to each of us not only to know and embrace these values, but to model them in all that we do," said Dr. Rusiloski.
"This is a complicated time for all institutions of higher education, and particularly challenging for small universities. We face this challenge here every day, head-on individually and collectively as an institution. This is the time for us to grow in a number of strategic and essential ways. This is the time for us to invest in our roots as we broaden our reach. We will broaden our reach by adding new undergraduate and graduate programs in growing labor markets and burgeoning fields where our students will find high quality, first destinations post-graduation that will lead them on their career trajectory."
The inaugural ceremony was followed by a new tradition at DelVal, the Student Harvest Festival, which was run by students who are members of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS). MANRRS is a national society that encourages academic and professional advancement for minorities and their allies' pursuing degrees in STEM-related fields. MANRRS mission is to promote and implement initiatives that foster the inclusion and advancement of members of ethnic and cultural groups underrepresented in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences in all phases of career preparation by providing academic and professional support. Through community, affirmation, and empowerment, MANRRS will help change the agricultural industry's future to a more equitable and diverse environment.
At the festival, students showcased their vegetables, legumes, fruit, beef and more, which they grew and harvested for guests to enjoy. There were also table displays for student-run clubs and organizations with demonstrations, club information and activities, plus hayrides to South Campus for apple picking, pumpkins, and DelVal's first-ever hemp maze.
The University and Dr. Rusiloski gave many thanks to MANRRS and their student leaders, to Jacquelyn Dudley '24 and Natasha Robertson '23, as well as MANRRS advisors, Dr. Melissa Wright, Dr. Carla Garzon, and Carlos Soto-Gil.
Much of the food served at the Student Harvest Festival was farmed and curated on one of DelVal's three properties that comprise the 1,000-acre campus in Bucks and Montgomery counties including main campus, The Gemmil Center in Jamison, and Roth Farm in North Wales.
To watch Dr. Rusiloski's inauguration visit: delval.edu/inauguration.