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March 14, 2007

Contact: Anthony Slaby at 608-796-3042 or


LA CROSSE, Wis. – Viterbo University is planning to celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Rick Artman as its eighth president with a weeklong series of community activities culminating with a formal installation ceremony Friday, March 30 at 2 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony, highlighted by Artman’s inaugural address, which will outline the new president’s vision for Viterbo and a series of ideas associated with the university’s future.

Officials are expecting a number of out of town guests including delegates from various colleges and universities. While inaugurations are traditionally rich in pomp and circumstance, those planning the ceremony took note of Artman’s request that the focus of events should go beyond the ceremony—to celebrating Viterbo, its people and the La Crosse area which has provided a home for the university since its founding in 1890. Over a dozen events are planned throughout the week including a musical concert, service projects, and presentations tied to the theme of hope.

The president traditionally chooses a theme for the inauguration and Artman selected “Hope and Help.” “My theme for the inauguration affirms Viterbo as theUniversity of Opportunity and recognizes its distinctive commitment to help students of all ages achieve their hopes and dreams,” Artman said.

Artman, 58, was officially appointed president of Viterbo July 1, succeeding outgoing president William Medland, who held the position for 15 years. Prior to Viterbo, Artman successfully served for 12 years as president of Siena Heights University (Adrian, Mich.) where he gained a strong reputation for his leadership and fundraising abilities. During his tenure, Artman oversaw the transformation of Siena Heights from a college to a university, numerous facility upgrades, an increased sense of Catholic identity, and a complete overhaul of the school’s technology, making it the first university in Michigan to be completely wireless. He is the first sitting president to be appointed by Viterbo University.

While in office for nearly nine months, the new president has used that time listening to faculty, staff, students, trustees, benefactors, alumni, and other groups talk about the new opportunities and challenges that will comprise Viterbo’s future. Artman expects to incorporate details from those listening sessions into the vision he will share in the inaugural address.

“The stories I have heard are rich and powerful,” Artman said,  “Viterbo has been wonderfully blessed throughout the years with talented people, a deep and meaningful Catholic, Franciscan mission, and visionary leadership which has allowed the university to meet and grow from the many challenges it has encountered. It is both humbling and exciting to begin a new chapter in this history.

In addition to the inauguration ceremony itself, two events in particular are expected to appeal to a wide community audience. “Conversations on Hope” will feature a presentation by faculty members Rick Kyte and Tom Thibodeau who explore hope as an attitude shared by all great leaders. The interactive presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m. in San Damiano Chapel.

On Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. the public is invited to attend a free concert,  “When You Believe—A Celebration of Song.” The stage of the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre will be filled with young students from Wisconsin and Minnesota who will be directed by Viterbo alumni who now teach in schools throughout the area. Featured performers include students from Holmen Elementary School, New London Middle School, and, Totino Grace High School of Fridley, Minn. The La Crosse Boychoir and Viterbo’s Platinum Edition will also perform. President Artman’s seven-year-old granddaughter, Lexi Tonniges, who has won dancing awards throughout the Midwest, will honor her grandfather with two special numbers during the concert.

Reservations for the concert are not required and those planning to attend will be seated on a first-come basis.

A complete listing of inauguration week activities is listed on the Web at

Please note:

1. President Artman will be available for media access during inauguration week. Please contact Anthony Slaby at 796-3042 for details.

2. The complete text of President Artman’s inaugural speech will be posted on the Web at on March 31.

3. Space and special accommodations for the media has been arranged for the inauguration ceremony. Please contact Anthony Slaby for details.

4. A complete listing of inaugural events, many open to the general public, is available at


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