Seeking to emerge from an era of controversy and tension, Buffalo State College inaugurated Muriel A. Moore as its seventh president Friday in an upbeat ceremony stressing unity, cooperation and optimism.
"There is more in our diversity to hold us together than to pull us apart," Ms. Moore told a capacity crowd of 1,500 invited guests in the Rockwell Hall auditorium. "We as a college and we as a society urgently need the strength of all our people as we move toward the next century."
Ms. Moore became interim president in January, and in April she was chosen by the State University of New York to succeed F.C. Richardson, whose tenure was marked by racial and political turmoil.
"I believe she has worked wonders surrounded by disarray," said William S. Maloney, president of the United Students Government. "In Dr. Moore we place our faith, trust and hope."
Franz Ross, president of Buffalo State's alumni association, said Ms. Moore has a proven track record. "We already know you are just the right person to lead us," he said.
Ms. Moore, formerly vice president for public service and urban affairs at the University at Buffalo, received two standing ovations during a 65-minute inauguration marked by a warm and sometimes humorous tone.
Enthusiastic applause also greeted former Buffalo State presidents Paul G. Bulger, E.K. Fret-well and D. Bruce Johnstone, as well as Imam Fajri Ansari, Ms. Moore's brother, who gave the closing declaration.
Maloney drew good-natured laughter when in the middle of the ceremony he urged Ms. Moore to fight against tuition or fee increases and to work for the renovation of the Student Union.
Ross B. Kenzie, chairman of the College Council, speculated about Maloney's political future and jokingly suggested a possible challenge to Mayor Masiello, who also was on stage.
"There's a tremendous sense of excitement, of energy, of happiness," Masiello said. "That's because we have somebody we all believe in, we all respect, we all admire."
Even the musical interludes reflected the ceremony's hopeful tone.
"No more talk of darkness, forget these dark-eyed fears," sang Joyce G. Robinson, accompanied by members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. "Let me be your shelter. Let me be your light."
Ms. Moore stressed Buffalo State's 125-year history of access and academic achievement, the need to respond to rapid technological and social change, and an emphasis on tolerance.
"To meet these challenges, it becomes ever more significant for us to come together as a just, caring and purposeful community," she said. "Our ultimate goal is to provide an environment in which intellectual and creative endeavors may thrive, in which disagreement and debate are cherished, but where divisiveness is shunned."
With public funding for higher education diminishing, Ms. Moore said, Buffalo State will rely more heavily on alumni and the private sector.
"We need to enhance and expand our base of financial support," she said. "We must become more entrepreneurial. We must have flexibility, and we must forge new community partnerships. We must become, once again, a valued part of our state's agenda."
Those and other changes, Ms. Moore said, will present major tests.
"This will require boldness, creativity, decisiveness and above all, cooperation," she said. "Buffalo State College, as a community, must determine the way of its own collective destiny, for institutions that do not change eventually decline."
UB President William R. Greiner, who worked closely with Ms. Moore there, gave her a hug and a glowing endorsement.
"How lucky you're going to be to have this wonderful woman here," he said. "Muriel Moore is a leader who knows how to build and to bring out the best in the people around her."
Alex Ratkowski, chairman of the College Senate, urged Ms. Moore to put that trust and confidence to good use.
"Welcome aboard, Muriel Moore," he said. "Now let's get on with the important tasks that lie ahead."