WC Community Gathers for Inaugural Ceremony

President Mitchell Reiss’ inaguration ceremony attracted a crowd full of students, dignitaries, alumni, and faculty. Photo courtesy of Chris Stokes.

Megan Willis

Elm Staff Writer

A blue sky overhead, children playing in the green, a background of international flags, and a crowd dressed to impress, including several politicians, academic superstars, and former college first ladies: President Mitchell Reiss could not have asked for a better day to be inaugurated. The ceremony lasted just a little over an hour and began with the procession of delegation accompanied by students and an invocation by Reverend Daniel Gross. It consisted of a number of guest speakers from a diverse pool of backgrounds.

Congressman Frank Kratovil congratulated Reiss and Washington College on the presidency. He spoke of WC and how, “what goes on in these halls affects not only Chestertown, but Maryland and the world.”

Following him was Senator Mike Miller who went into a series of humorous anecdotes about the pursuit of a new president for WC. He suggested Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “They picked who they picked,” he

said. “And it was the best of both my suggestions…A person who moves around the room knows more than the person who sits there, and Mitchell Reiss has been just about everywhere.”

Mayor Margo Bailey came next, affectionately calling Chestertown the, “red-headed stepchild of the president.” She recalled Reiss’s interest in the community, and how he reestablished the unity of WC and Chestertown.

Vikki Sawyer of the Career Center presented Reiss with two presents from WC staff: a golden wrench, “because in higher education there is always something that needs to be fixed,” Sawyer said, and a clock set to 5 p.m., “to remind [him] to go home.”

Drama Professor Michelle Volansky also presented him with a present. Additionally, she also promised that “negotiating with the faculty will be slightly easier than negotiating with terrorists.”

Following her speech, Dr. Mary Seurkamp from Notre Dame and Secretary John Churchill of the Phi Beta Kappa community welcomed Reiss into the WC community. A short choir fanfare was sung, and then the installation of Reiss was commenced, involving a medallion strung around his neck in honor.

Reiss gave a speech that echoed back to WC’s forefathers. He professed an “optimism in our ability,” called for “a leap of faith in our convictions and beliefs” and stated his desire to establish “integrity, respect, and courage” at WC.

After the ceremony there was a chance to mingle with esteemed guests from different universities around the world.

Provost of William and Mary, Michael Hallerman, talked about losing Reiss.

“Of course I was sad to see our diplomat-in-resident go,” he said. “But I think it’s a great acquisition for Washington College, and who knows; maybe one day one of you will end up working with us.”

“They paired students with delegates to get students to come,” chemistry professor Frank Creegan said. “And the date was picked so the Board of Governors could be part of the event. So much thought was put into this day. There was a whole Inauguration Committee who’s been working on this for months…Laura Wilson, Diana Landskroner, Judy Barell, Sheryl Loller…so many people have tried to make this event a success.”

It seemed, by the content faces and comments at the luncheon, that the day was a success.

Professor James Martin and Professor Phillip Walsh both enjoyed the ceremony immensely.

“I thought it went very well,” Martin said. “The speakers were all very stimulating.”

Walsh thought that Reiss’s speech “articulated the vision of liberal arts schools.”

Professor Steven Bruce also appreciated  Reiss’s speech. “He refocused on the old values of George Washington that you see all around the college,” he said. “You know, those 100 Things a Gentleman Does scattered all around the buildings.”

Faculty members were not the only ones who enjoyed the ceremony.

“I went to see it because it was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” sophomore Rachel Benders said. “I probably won’t ever see another college presidential inauguration and I thought it went well.”

Sophomores Nicholas Tremper and Nicholas Hall led delegates up to the stage.

“I really enjoyed it because it made me feel optimistic about the future of the college,” Tremper said.

Hall echoed his sentiments and said that, “I wanted to be a part of my school’s history…The speeches were stellar and it was an absolutely beautiful day.”

Even students working behind-the-scenes, such as sophomore Taylor Goss, who worked catering, enjoyed the event.

“I had fun running around and getting to meet some of the delegates.” Goss said.

The inauguration was in all, everything it should have been. It was, in the words of senior SGA president Andrew Antonio:

“An end, a beginning. A reanimation of the past for our future.”

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