By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
Texas A&M University-Central Texas took yet another step toward its goal of becoming an educational center for the area, as it celebrated the inauguration of its first president Thursday.
More than 1,000 guests were invited to attend the inauguration of Marc Nigliazzo, a Central Texas native, at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Elected officials, community members, and officials and staff from the Texas A&M University System looked on as Nigliazzo, who was appointed to the position more than 19 months ago, was officially named the school's first president.
"I want all those who were here today to know Texas A&M University-Central Texas has arrived," said Nigliazzo. "The Warriors are here."
The university, a stand-alone, upper-level institution, opened its doors in Killeen in August 2009. As of fall 2011, enrollment stood at 2,096 undergraduate and graduate students.
During Thursday's ceremony, Nigliazzo was presented with a presidential medallion and ring. Several officials, including members of the Texas A&M University System board of regents, praised the new president's accomplishments and predicted a bright future for the new university.
"(Nigliazzo) has the warrior spirit that will make this university a force in education in Central Texas," said Richard Box, chair of the A&M system board.
Addressing guests at the ceremony, Nigliazzo laid out his vision for the school and thanked many members of the community who have partnered with it, including Central Texas College and Tarleton State University.
"This is a time that you cannot imagine," Nigliazzo said. "This is a time ... when you feel inspired to move forward."
Currently, "moving forward" for Nigliazzo means working toward completion of the university's campus in Killeen.
In an interview with the Herald shortly before his inauguration, Nigliazzo said the completion of the $40 million campus facility off State Highway 195, which is due to open this summer, would be the first step toward the college's short-term goals.
"Obviously, we want to see continued growth," said Nigliazzo. "Our first target is to consolidate our programs onto one central campus."
During his speech, Nigliazzo gave the crowd a glimpse of the university's ultimate goal by reading a letter to future students that was placed in a time capsule, which will be opened in 2060.
He painted a picture of a large campus with bright buildings, green lawns and buzzing with activity.
"We believed (the university) would become an educational center of all of Central Texas," he said.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.