By Grace Apostol and Sophie Foster
President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski was sworn in as the 31st president of Washington College on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 8 amidst a weekend of events in honor of the occasion.
The celebration began with a day-long symposium on Friday, Oct. 7, featuring several speakers and presentations for its audience composed primarily of students, faculty, and members of the Board of Visitors and Governors.
Director of the Humanities Major and European Studies Minor, Chair of World Languages and Cultures, Associate Professor of German Studies Dr. Nicole Grewling, and Provost and Dean of Students Dr. Michael Harvey welcomed guests to the symposium.
A student colloquium, introduced by Associate Dean for International Education Dr. Rebeca Moreno, was on international education and followed Dr. Grewling and Dr. Harvey. The colloquium spotlighted presentations from sophomore Emily Ulizio and seniors Theo Barry, Alyssa Kovacs, Sammy Segeda, and Julianna Sterling on the Czech Republic, Morocco, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Senegal.
Next in the lineup was a dialogue regarding faculty-student collaborative research opportunities abroad, facilitated by Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of the Black Studies Minor, Dr. Elena Deanda-Camacho, Associate Professor of French, Dr. Karen Manna, and junior Kate Gromacki.
The afternoon presented two individual sessions. The first session, introduced by Director of Civic Engagement Dr. Patrick Nugent, hosted several discussions of linguistic accessibility.
The session began with discussions of language and borders from the Director of the Writing Center Dr. Rachel Rodriguez, which was followed by an analysis of literacy in prison systems from Chair of Anthropology and Archaeology Dr. Emily Steinmetz.
The session concluded with an exploration of the impact of literacy enrichment endeavors at underserved educational institutions from Assistant Professor of Education and Director of the Museum, Field, and Community Education Minor Dr. Sara Clarke-De Reza, Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Nick Garcia, and senior Avery Castellani.
The second session, introduced by Dr. Deanda-Camacho, saw a conversation about the interplay of technology and pandemic life from the Assistant Professor of Chinese Language, Literature, and Culture and Director of the Asian Studies Minor Dr. David Hull, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Director of the First-Year Seminar Dr. Martín Ponti, and Dr. Grewling.
The second session concluded with insights into the Collaborative Online International Learning Virtual Exchange program from Associate Professor of Spanish and Associate Chair of World Languages and Cultures Dr. Cristina Casado Presa and Dr. Moreno.
Professor of German Studies and Linguistics at Emory University Dr. Hiram Maxim gave the keynote address, introduced by applied linguist and German educator Dr. Cori Crane. He concluded with remarks from Dr. Ponti and President Sosulski.
The day ended with an opening reception and exhibition tour that began with hors d’oeuvres in the McLain Atrium and a presentation of the Kohl Gallery’s Radiant Material Exhibit by Director and Curator of the Kohl Gallery Tara Gladden, who then led visitors to the John S. Toll Science Center for desserts and a display of Radiant.
Beginning the events of Saturday, Oct. 8, held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Waterfront Campus hosted Activities and a Picnic, including the Head of the Chester Regatta with WC’s Women’s Rowing against Saint Mary’s College of Maryland Women’s Rowing.
At 3 p.m., the weekend’s main event, the Inauguration Ceremony for President Sosulski, commenced.
The event began with the Academic Processional led by Grand Marshal and Associate Professor of English and American Studies Dr. Richard DeProspo and Marshal and Professor of Political Science and International Studies Dr. Andrew Oros.
The procession also included the Chesapeake Caledonian Pipes and Drums, the College Mace, the Flag Bearers, the Delegates from Colleges and Universities, the Delegates from Learned Societies, the Faculty Emeriti, the faculty, the College Baton, the Board of Visitors and Governors Emeriti, the Board of Visitors and Governors, the Platform Party, Provost Dr. Michael Harvey, the Chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors, and President Michael Sosulski.
Following the Processional was the Invocation, delivered by the Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Chestertown, Md., Reverend Robert N. Brown, Jr., and the Pledge of Allegiance, sung by Sue Matthews ’75 with accompaniment by Stefan Scaggiari.
After this, the Chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors Stephen T. Golding ’72 welcomed the community and recognized the distinguished visitors.
“Dr. Sosulski will be the 31st president in [the College’s] 240 year history, and we are honored by your presence at this important moment in the life of this institution,” Golding said.
Golding also introduced Editor-in-Chief of “Collegian,” Poetry Screener of “Cherry Tree,” and English Major senior Eylie Sasajima to the stage to recite a poem she had written for the festivities.
Dr. Harvey spoke next to introduce the greeters of the inauguration. These speakers offered greetings on behalf of the town of Chestertown from Mayor David Foster and greetings on behalf of the WC staff from Director of Residential Life Amy Sine.
“What an amazing time to become a leader of this institution,” Sine said. “To be the one to bring change, hope, and to set a new course for success.”
Greetings were brought from Alumni Board Chair Jenifer Svelha ’03 and the WC student body from Student Government Association President senior Alexandra May.
“Our school energy is going back to how it was before the pandemic, and it is making me remember the campus climate I fell in love with four years ago on my campus tour,” May said.
Also part of these greetings were the WC faculty greeting from Dr. Grewling, and the academic community from the President of Wofford College Dr. Nayef Samhat.
Proceeding the greetings, a performance of the song “Here’s to Life” was sung by Matthews and accompanied by Scaggiari on piano.
Following this performance, the Installation of the President and Administration of the Oath of Office led by Chair Golding and Investiture with the President’s Chain and Medallion presented by Vice Chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors William J. Harvey.
After these traditions, President Sosulski gave his Inaugural Address to the College community where he discussed, amongst many ideas, the importance of higher education today.
“As far as the value and purpose of higher education go, these days we may not be split into quite a billion fragments, but we do, as a society, find ourselves deeply divided,” President Sosulski said. “Does the college still have a rule today in healing these painful divides? Does higher education still have the capacity to create and strengthen our Democratic values and community? Well, I believe with every fiber in my being that the answer is yes.”
To round out the event, WC’s Chorus featuring freshmen Jaya Basu and Brandon Edgerly, sophomores Sarah Coverdale, Asia Elliott, Maddi Mulder, Amy MacNair, and MacKenzie MacDonald, juniors Dori McMenamian and Kaitlyn McCaffery, senior Lexi Meola, and Mike Nichols ’22, sang two songs for the event. Directed by Visiting Professor of Music J.E. Green and accompanied by Noah Dion, the choir sang the College’s Alma Mater “Old Washington,” written by Charles Atwater in 1926 and arranged in 1995 by Garry E. Clarke and “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” a traditional Appalachian song set by J. David Moore in 2001.
Reverend Brown then gave a Benediction to close the ceremony, followed by the Recessional led by Marshal DeProspo.
After the ceremony, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., there was a reception on the Miller Library Terrace with hors d’oeuvres, spirits, and drinks served. WC’s Jazz Combo features sophomore Darrell Rideout, junior McCaffery, and seniors Alex Palmer and Stephen Marvel, directed by DMA and Associate Professor of Music Ken Schweitzer.
From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., an invitational-only Gala to celebrate President Sosulski’s recent inauguration commenced in the evening.
Following the toasts and evening of food and drink, the Gala provided guests with a dance floor with a live band that was also present at the Gala for guests to enjoy and utilize in celebration.
Amidst the celebration ending, President Sosulski was thankful for the weekend of festivities in his honor.
“Today was the most beautiful day I could have imagined,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Hook
Photo Caption: Secretary of Service and Community Relations sophomore Stephen Hook congratulates newly inaugurated President Sosulski.