St. Mary's College Officially Inaugurates Its 29th President

James Donahue promises to change the world "one student at a time" in the Friday afternoon ceremony

St. Mary's College President James Donahue addresses the crowd during his Friday afternoon inaugural
St. Mary's College President James Donahue addresses the crowd during his Friday afternoon inaugural
On a picture perfect fall afternoon, St. Mary's College officially inaugurated its 29th president on Friday.

James Donahue has been on the job since July 1, but Friday's ceremony on the Moraga college's chapel lawn was the official welcome.

In his inaugural address before a crowd of about 600 people, Donahue said three things have impressed him since arriving at the campus.

One is that community is the core of what makes St. Mary's unique.

Second is the talent and committed exhibited by everyone at the university.

Third is the clarity with which the college pursues its mission and identity.

"We're seen as a hidden gem," said Donahue. "Now we aim to become a highly visible polished gem."

He added St. Mary's has "something special" happening.

"What is it we are poised to do?," he said. "Nothing monumental. We're just looking to change the world. Even a little. We'll do that one student at a time."

Donahue had been president and professor of ethics at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley from 2000 to 2013 before accepting the St. Mary's job.

He also served for 15 years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as a professor of theology and ethics, dean of students and vice president for student affairs.

Donahue has also held faculty and administrative positions at Boston College and Santa Clara University.

Donahue earned a bachelor's degree from College of the Holy Cross and a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He earned his doctorate in religious social ethics from Graduate Theological Union.

The ceremony began with an academic procession of faculty, regents, trustees and students at St. Mary's.

Donahue's son, Nicholas, read the invocation in he said he hoped "the college would grow in the same way" he has grown under his father's guidance.

A sparkling rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was sung by St. Mary's student Angelica Whaley.

A series of speakers then greeted the new president.

Meghan Leader, a St. Mary's 1987 graduate and chair of the college's Board of Trustees,  said the board was impressed with Donahue's ability to listen and collaborate when they hired him last spring.

"I remember thinking what a natural fit you'd be," she said.


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