During her inauguration as Capital University's 16th president on April 21, Elizabeth Paul said her vision for the university is to promote strategic growth not only within campus boundaries but throughout central Ohio.

"At Capital University, we find ourselves at a most powerful inflection point in the history of our local community. Our metro region is moving and shaking, proudly boasting significant growth projections," Paul said.

"We must embrace growth for lifting up all people -- progress that is purposeful. Capital is poised to be an agent in shaping this vital pursuit," she said.

Capital's board of trustees voted unanimously Feb. 6, 2016, to hire Paul, who previously served as vice president and provost at Stetson University in central Florida. She began work at Capital last July, after former president Denvy Bowman retired at the end of his 10th year.

Before Paul took the podium at the inauguration, Bowman reviewed the progress Capital had made since he became president in 2006. The university eliminated a projected $12 million annual deficit and balanced the budget by eliminating administrative redundancies and implementing more efficient budgeting, he said.

Other accomplishments in recent years include capital improvements such as a new scoreboard, sound system and field lights as well as new turf at Bernlohr Stadium and the opening earlier this year of the Convergent Media Center.

"Above all, Capital embraced difference and human dignity as the dean of the chapel welcomed all faiths," Bowman said. "Thus by 2016, the university had doubled the representation of diversity in our first-year class, doubled the number of student organizations on campus and grown undergraduate student enrollment by more than 8 percent."

In addition to Bowman, the inauguration included remarks by Capital faculty, Paul's colleagues from various stages of her career, and state, local and national dignitaries. U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) said Paul arranged a meeting within her first couple of months on the job to discuss how Capital could strengthen its relationship with the surrounding community.

"President Paul will not only continue the 'ask, think, lead' mission, but at the same time, prepare the university for a new beginning," Beatty said. "Her aspirations are strong and bold. ... She is profound and the right person to help students generate the narrative that will guide them through their undergraduate years into life beyond college."

Paul is past president of the Council on Undergraduate Research, a board member of the National College and University Business Officers and task force chairwoman of the Council of Independent Colleges. She relocated to central Ohio with her husband, William Ball, a political scientist, and daughters, Martha, a junior at George Washington University, and Sophie, who is a senior at Bexley High School.

Paul's inauguration coincided with Capital's Alumni Weekend and included a week of events involving Capital students, alumni, staff and the community. Events included a Symposium on Undergraduate Scholarship, panel discussions, a student art exhibition at the Schumacher Gallery, a concert by the Capital Symphonic Winds and a community block party at First English Lutheran Church.

As part of the celebration, Capital announced a formal partnership with the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, which is designed to fuel scholarships for low-income, underrepresented and first-generation students with a passion for community engagement and social justice issues. Capital's Bonner program will expand on traditional service models to spark an intentional movement to address challenges in Columbus, beginning in the Near East Side and Driving Park neighborhoods.

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