First came the bagpipes. The high-pitched drone of the march “Major George Morrison” wafted into the Student Recreation Center as the UCR Pipe Band led the Academic Procession. The student marshals, bearing their colleges’ flags, followed.
Then a rainbow of regalia worn by UCR faculty members made its way up the aisle, led by Ameae Walker, the faculty marshal. By the time the official party walked in — the vice chancellors, the administrative officers, the honored speakers, the members of the UC Board of Regents, and even UC President Janet Napolitano — there was somewhat of a traffic jam leading up to the podium.
Who took the selfie with Chancellor Wilcox moments before he was officially invested into office?
That would be Reem Blaik, a 21-year-old junior studying sociology, and law and society. Blaik, a social media intern in the Undergraduate Admissions Department, was covering the investiture as part of her job. “I was sitting in the front bleachers, and when I saw Chancellor Wilcox [approaching the stage] I was hesitant to approach him, but I asked for a photo.”
Surprisingly, Wilcox agreed to the photo; what happened next is going down in UCR history. “I don’t know what got into me — but my proximity to the chancellor and his approachable personality made me feel like I had nothing to lose,” Blaik explained. “Before the line started to move again, I quickly asked the chancellor if I could take a selfie with him. He laughed and said, ‘Why not?’ The next thing I know, I’m doing the selfie-reach and taking a hand-held, self-portrait with the ninth chancellor of UCR!”
— Lilledeshan Bose
It was April 24, and the whole campus was celebrating the investiture of Kim A. Wilcox, the ninth chancellor of the University of California, Riverside. More than 650 members of the UCR and UC community were in attendance at the investiture, which was followed by a large public reception near the campus’ iconic bell tower.
As Wilcox waited for his turn to walk up on stage, a student jumped out of her seat and asked to take his picture. No, wait — could she also take a selfie with the chancellor? Moments before he was to be invested into office?
Of course, Chancellor Wilcox said yes.
To many, that gracious gesture says so much about the kind of chancellor Wilcox is. There is his vision, of course; an intention to expand UCR’s faculty by 300 ladder-rank scholars, provide for the addition of new facilities, and take new measures to achieve increased globalization.
There is his heart. As Wilcox spoke about how his life paralleled UCR’s growth (both were born in 1954, so to speak), he choked up as he recalled his path to the chancellorship. He was a first-generation college student. His grandfather had only a third grade education. His father made it through the sixth grade, eventually graduating from high school the year before Wilcox’s sister.
“What distinguishes Chancellor Wilcox as the perfect leader for UC Riverside is his deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, and student success.”
Janet Napolitano, president, University of California