President T.J. Arant to be inaugurated March 30.
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2012
Photo provided by Friends University Communications Department.

By Danielle Prewitt, freshman

T.J. Arant is to be sworn into office as the 13th president of Friends University at 2 p.m. on March 30. The event will take place at the Garvey Physical Education Center gymnasium, followed by a reception, which will be held in the McKay Gymnasium in the lower level of the Casado Campus Center.

The expected crowd will not only include students and faculty, but possible dignitaries, community members and alumni from other institutions. The inauguration planning committee wants representatives from other states and institutions to get a good representation at the event.

Lisa Tilma, executive director of alumni relations and chair of the inauguration committee, said that the process is still in finalization. The inauguration committee is expecting 1,000 to 1,500 attendees.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase Friends University to the Wichita community and beyond,” Tilma said.

Committee members are looking to have about 200 alumni from in-state and out-of-state institutions to be represented at the ceremony. Tilma said that the committee is looking at a few alumni at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University. 

The possibility of having local dignitaries attend the inauguration is still under review. Other such organizations attending the event are the Wichita Alumni Association, 5K Run with Friends, and of course the inauguration committee. People associated with Arant’s previous institutions are expected to attend.

The Run with Friends organization will host a 5K run and walk earlier in the week before the ceremony.

Nancy Graf, the president’s administrative assistant, said that Arant was excited about his upcoming inauguration. She said he frequently states that “It is not about me; it is about the University.”

Arant was selected by University Board of Trustees and took office July 1, 2011. Before coming to Friends, he was an executive vice president of Mount Olive College in North Carolina. He received a doctorate degree in English from Duke University, earned a master’s degree in English from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and received a bachelor’s from Vanderbilt University.

To find more information in the coming weeks, visit

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Photo provided by Friends University's Athletic Department
Photo provided by Friends University's Athletic Department
Photo provided by Friends University's Athletic Department