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It’s natural to wonder about this: UW–Madison doesn’t have an extensive history of investitures. We know there have been at least two: in January 1850, the UW’s first chancellor, John Lathrop, had a public inauguration ceremony (which followed a private investiture in October 1849). And in 2008, Chancellor Biddy Martin PhD’85 had a formal welcome ceremony — though it wasn’t called an investiture. The word investiture is Latin in origin: its root, invest, means, essentially, to clothe. An investiture is a ceremony in which someone is symbolically installed into an office and receives the office’s robes and regalia. Investitures began in the middle ages. (If you remember History 115, you might recall the Investiture Controversy, in which the pope and the Holy Roman Emperor fought over who had the right to invest bishops. Thank you, Professor Lapina ’00!) At UW–Madison, some campus units have investitures for professors or deans, and on April 14, Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin will have an investiture ceremony. It will be hard to match Lathrop’s to-do. That was a grand occasion: Madison businesses shut down, the legislature closed, there was a parade, and women were forced to watch from a separate balcony. Mnookin’s investiture will also have many events, but this time, a woman will be center stage.

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