By Cecilia Cress and Olivia Montes
On Friday, Nov. 12, Washington College unveiled the official presidential portrait of former President of the College Kurt Landgraf at the Underwood Lobby in the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.
The painting was completed by portrait artist Lisa Egeli, who portrayed other notable members of the WC community including five WC presidents: Charles H. Trout, John S. Toll, L. Baird Tipson, Mitchell B. Reiss, and Sheila C. Bair.
The event saw remarks made by current President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski; Emeritus Member of the WC Board of Visitors of Governors Geoffrey Rogers, Sr. ’80; Professor of Political Science, International Studies Program Director, and Curator of the Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Program in Public Affairs Dr. Christine Wade; and Engeli.
“[Landgraf’s] expression of care extended to everyone on campus in ways big and small,” Dr. Wade said.
“He was constantly reassuring and approached people with such empathy, and he was adamant that we treat one another with decency and respect,” Dr. Wade said.
Dr. Sosulski highlighted Landgraf’s accomplishments made throughout the course of his presidency, including the opening of the College’s waterfront campus, which included Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall and the Hodson Boathouse, by obtaining the $4 million State Capital Grant; matching employee giving to the Kent County United Way; establishing the President’s Office Diversity Liaison position; and launching the COVID-19 Response Fund in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While it is no secret that the College continues to experience…challenges, the reality is that without some of his decisive actions, our road to recovery could be much longer and far bumpier than the one we face today,” Dr. Sosulski said. “His authentic engagement with the community…is a tremendous example for me to follow the sincere appreciation for his personal investment in [the] College, giving everyone in leadership something to aspire to.”
Rogers captured his commitment towards the community and determination to bond with others both on the WC campus and within the surrounding Chestertown area as he offered remarks during the event.
“This [quality] is visible and all around campus when he was here, [whether it be] mentoring students, faculty, or friends,” Rogers said. “[It was] a really wonderful touch.”
Dr. Wade said Landgraf’s dedication towards consistently demonstrating compassion, decency, and kindness — as well as moral courage and accountability for one’s actions — regardless of what challenges might be ahead was admirable.
“He did more to build…relations than any other president in recent memory by…[nurturing] relationships,” she said. “[Landgraf] was very fond of saying that he loved us before he knew us, and he demonstrated that so many times over.”
After the unveiling of the portrait, Landgraf responded at the event, thanking his fellow faculty and staff members and reflecting on his time serving as the College’s 29th president.
“It is a great privilege for me to have served this historic and nominal institution,” Landgraf said. “I fell in love with this place the first time I met the people on the search, more so than any other experience I had ever had in the corporate world.”
Landgraf continued his parting remarks about the institution of WC as a whole.
“Washington College has great assets [that can] make a meaningful difference in a very broken society,” he said. “I want you to be respectful of each other. I want you to care for each other and I mean care for each other. I want you to be honest with each other, [and] no matter what you do, make sure it’s in the best interest of the College.”
According to Dr. Sosulski, Landgraf’s portrait will be displayed in Daly Hall, reflecting his prior experiences in the world of business and finance.
Photo by Kayla Thorton
Featured Photo Caption: On Nov. 12, Washington College honored former President Kurt Landgraf with a presidential portrait in the Underwood Lobby in Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.