THE INAUGURATION OF MILAGROS PEÑA
The Sixth President of Purchase College
On October 28, 2021, the campus community and guests joined together in person and virtually to witness the inauguration of the sixth president of Purchase College, Milagros Peña.
Dr. Peña chose the theme “Purchase College and the Sustainable Future: People, Place, and Purpose,” a testament to her dedication to sustainability and social justice.
The Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra and the Purchase Symphony Orchestra accompanied the processional as it moved along the mall from The Performing Arts Center to the Neuberger Museum of Art. The processional included faculty, staff, guests, and alumni representing each graduating class.
The Museum’s Theatre Gallery, adorned with Lesley Dill’s impressive installation “Rush” (2006–07), served as the backdrop for performances and speeches by current students and alumni, faculty and staff, and college leadership.
Jazz studies student Anaïs Reno ’25 performed America the Beautiful, and Julia Tortello-Allen ’21, who majored in creative writing and minored in political science and playwriting, read an original inaugural poem.
Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina J. Mohammed delivered the keynote address, introduced by Yolanda T. Moses, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside.
Dr. Michael Schwartz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Stony Brook University, introduced Peña. Immediately following the Investiture Ceremony led by then-SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras and SUNY Board Trustee Eunice A. Lewin, Peña delivered her inaugural address.
The ceremony ended with the Purchase Soul Voices Choir’s rousing rendition of “Lift Ev’ry Voice” and the Purchase Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “New York, New York” to accompany the recessional.
Peña admires Purchase for its distinctive strength in the liberal arts and the arts and the diverse and inclusive community that values individuality and fully embraces the motto Think Wide Open. She appreciates the motto as a pillar of what a liberal arts education can bring to student success.
She was the first in her family not only to graduate from college but to receive a high school diploma. She grew up in Manhattan, the daughter of Dominican immigrants who did not have the opportunity to finish grade school. She has a deep and personal understanding of the power and importance of education and the arts as they shaped her own education and academic career. It is also why she has aggressively pursued and promoted cross-disciplinary scholarship, advanced diversity and inclusion, and stressed the importance of higher education institutions as community pillars.