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A day laden with tradition, symbolism Luminaries of academia, government to attend


When Michael R. Bloomberg, trustee chairman of the Johns bTC Hopkins University, places a chain with a presidential insignia over the head of Dr. William R. Brody at 1: 45 p.m. today in Hopkins' Shriver Hall, he will confer on Brody the formal authority of the university presidency.

A relatively simple moment, one might think, but it is part of an elaborate ceremony replete with academic regalia and symbolism that dates to the Middle Ages.

A procession of academics from universities spanning the country will march to the stage, with Brody and his four predecessors bringing up the rear.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, among other luminaries, will offer welcoming remarks. At that point, Bloomberg will make his presentation and Brody will give his inaugural speech.

Hopkins presidential installations are typically timed to coincide with the anniversary of the university's founding on Feb. 22, . Today's events were shifted to avoid a conflict with the Jewish Sabbath yesterday.

"It's very important to arrest people's attention" in an inaugural speech, said Dartmouth College President James O. Freedman. "You don't have it a year or two later in the same way."

Those who know Brody say he's well-suited for a university presidency -- and for a serious place like Hopkins. A well-regarded swimmer, Brody had indifferent board scores but became one of the best students in his class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid-1960s. After receiving his undergraduate degree in engineering, Brody became a house tutor for his fraternity, Delta Upsilon, while working on his master's degree.

To unwind, Brody would bang out songs on a piano upstairs. Even at MIT, fraternity members would let loose on weekends with hard-driving parties, recalled Carl Everett, who graduated several years after Brody.

"He was hanging around nursing a beer" during those bashes, said Everett, now an attorney in Philadelphia. "He had a girl back home named Wendy."

Wendy and Bill Brody now have two children, a son in high school and a daughter at Dartmouth. They have moved into Nichols House at Hopkins, making Brody the first president to live on campus since Milton S. Eisenhower, a widower, became president in the 1950s.

(The university's Web site at http: // will carry Brody's text and information about the ceremony.)

Pub Date: 2/23/97

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