Inauguration

Linda Fuchs, left, art historian and wife of UF President Kent Fuchs, watches his inauguration ceremony with family Dec. 4, 2015.

The long, golden chain passed from hand to hand until it reached UF President Kent Fuchs on Friday.

First, the presidential chain of office was in the hands of UF President Emeritus Marshall Criser II at the presidential inauguration ceremony. He passed it on to UF President Emeritus John Lombardi, who passed it to UF President Emeritus Bernie Machen.

When the shimmering medallion reached UF Board of Trustees Chairman Steven Scott, he placed it over Fuchs’ head, officially welcoming Fuchs as UF’s 12th president.

In the moments leading up to the presentation of the chain, speakers representing various aspects of Florida life spoke about Fuchs and his newfound leadership.

Scott spoke of the way Fuchs stood out to him during the search for a new president about a year ago.

He recalled meeting with potential candidates in offices, libraries and restaurants, but Fuchs and his wife, Linda, were the only ones to invite him to their home for dinner.

"I say, welcome, Dr. Fuchs to the University of Florida," he said. "Welcome to our home."

Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, said the inauguration was important to him as an alumnus, and he welcomed Fuchs on behalf of Florida’s agricultural cabinet.

Putnam said under Fuchs’ leadership, UF will climb to the top of higher education.

"The students, alumni, faculty and reptiles of The Gator Nation will follow you through these lovely vine-clad halls," he said.

Chairman of the Florida Board of Governors Morteza Hosseini said UF held a special place within Florida’s university family because of its history of not just high academics, but of encouraging students to volunteer.

"President Fuchs is here for these students," he said. "He cares about their success."

UF Student Body President Joselin Padron-Rasines spoke on behalf of students. She said she has seen Fuchs embrace the Student Body throughout the week’s inauguration events.

"The students have embraced him right back," she said.

After a rendition of "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes by UF professor of music John Duff, Cornell University President Emeritus Frank Rhodes took to the lectern to introduce Fuchs.

He said while he and Fuchs were at Cornell, Fuchs was one of the best engineering deans he had ever known, and when Cornell was in need of a provost, he highly recommended Fuchs.

"He’s demonstrated that he’s superbly equipped to build upon (UF’s) strong foundation and bring it to even greater heights," he said.

When it was finally Fuchs’ turn to speak, he shared a story of his love for the Florida sky.

He said he was nervous to hold graduation ceremonies outside in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in May. But when the time came, he said the sky turned into stunning shades of orange and blue. That day’s sky reminds him of his goal to bring UF to top-10 status.

He described his goals for UF, which included recruiting more international students, creating a more diverse Student Body and having UF academics be just as nationally recognized as athletics.

"Together, let’s go forth to explore that orange and blue horizon and beyond," he said.

Contact Alexandra Fernandez at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern