Yesterday, April 8th, marked the inauguration of Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, as the 16th president of Shepherd University.

Inauguration of Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, 16th President of Shepherd University

(THE PICKET) – Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix was inaugurated the 16th president of Shepherd University on April 8, the first Shepherd graduate to lead the school in its 145-year history.

“As a proud alum, I am extremely grateful to Shepherd for giving me a solid, liberal arts dedication. Education absolutely delivered by the most dedicated faculty and caring staff anywhere and enhanced by the very supportive community. By example, Shepherd allowed me to develop two important attributes that have guided my professional demeanor throughout my career,” Hendrix said in her inaugural address.

After graduating from Shepherd University, Hendrix went on to earn a doctorate and became a leading scientist in cancer research with a focus on identifying genes that contribute to cancer. She holds seven patents in the field.

“Although we face financial challenges, we cannot lack aspiration,” Hendrix said, “We must continue to do everything possible to provide our students with the opportunities to succeed. How will this be possible at Shepherd, which receives only 16 percent of their budget from the state of West Virginia? The only way forward my friends, is with private public partnerships, with creative networking and new collaborations.”

Hendrix spoke of the town’s commitment in offering new internships and apprentice programs so students can experience work environments before making career commitments.

Hendrix also spoke of donors who are coming forward to provide new scholarships, support innovative educational programs, and strategize about new facilities.

“Shepherd should be viewed as a valuable resource for the community and the state,” Hendrix said, “An academic institution like Shepherd should serve as a catalyst for the community bringing in new technology and addressing issues of importance together. My goal is to promote Shepherd as a valuable resource for West Virginia is new technologies and educational programs.”

Not only was April 8 a day to celebrate Dr. Hendrix’s inauguration, but it was also a day to celebrate her father.

“Today is a very special day for so many reasons. April 8th marks the birthday of my father, Charles Nelson Grant Hendrix, a WWII hero. He was instrumental in initiating the oceanography department at the United States Naval Academy where we proudly taught and mentored many notable students.”

Among the audience members were Hendrix’s cousin representing her family, the chairman of the oceanography department at the U.S. Naval Academy, and some of the former students of her late father.

“My father commuted daily to the Naval Academy so that (my) mother and I could enjoy living in Shepherdstown where (my) mother worked at Shepherd for over 30 years as a secretary and I had the privileged of attending this remarkable institution.”

Also in the audience were Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer, congressional representative Alex Mooney, Hendrix’s childhood friends, college and professional colleagues, and national philanthropic leaders.

One of the philanthropic leaders Hendrix mentioned was Ann Lurie. Lurie is the founder of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, which is one of the top 10 children’s hospital in the U.S. and Hendrix’s former place of employment.

To close the inauguration ceremony, Hendrix told the story of a Shepherdstown girl who brought her closer to her colleagues at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

“I was drawn to Heather a few years ago when I saw her and her service dog working diligently at the Jefferson Security Bank in Shepherdstown,” Hendrix said. “I wanted to learn more about her. She told me about a remarkable physician-scientist in Chicago who had diagnosed and treated her rare condition and as it turns out, that physician-scientist is a close friend and colleague at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Dr. Debra Weese-Mayer, who joined us today and serves as the chief for the center for autonomic medicine in pediatrics.”

Hendrix used her story as a reminder that we have all touched each others lives in different ways.

“Please know that we at Shepherd consider it a privilege to share knowledge to train the next generation. This is a sacred responsibility that shapes our future and creates our legacy and we have an extraordinary faculty to implement our theme of excellence,” Hendrix said.

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