By Grace Apostol
New head of the Center for Environment and Society Dr. Valerie Imbruce began her new position on Feb. 1, with a following welcome reception for her on Feb. 3.
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Semans Griswold Environmental Hall, alumni, faculty, staff, and students of Washington College gathered to celebrate Dr. Imbruce’s arrival.
In attendance was sophomore Rachel Beall who last semester participated in WC’s Chesapeake Semester, where students study the Chesapeake Bay.
“I’m here to meet the new CES Director and talk to my old professors and all my friends,” said Beall. “There are a lot of cool people here.”
Attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and conversation with one another while having the chance to meet and talk with Dr. Imbruce herself.
Center Coordinator for CES Sherri Spray, who works with Dr. Imbruce and was a part of the group who hired her, was present at the reception. Spray said that Dr. Imbruce was top of the list for her when it came to candidates.
“I was a bit involved in the hiring process and she was my top pick,” Spray said. “So, I am very excited that she is here.”
Spray also said that the hiring process for the new Director of CES was engaged and in depth with a hiring team being involved.
“There were a lot of layers, a lot of which were confidential, but we as a team came together and we interviewed all of the candidates and came to a consensus that Dr. Imbruce was the top choice with no questions asked,” she said.
Spray added that she was excited to work with Dr. Imbruce and work together in the center.
“I can’t wait to see everybody come together and realize how amazing the CES is and how much we have to offer everyone, all the different departments across every discipline, and how we want to support them,” Spray said.
River and Field Campus Director and Associate Director of CES Programs and Staff Michael Hardesty was present for Dr. Imbruce’s first few days on the job, as well as the reception.
“Valerie is a very well-accomplished academic and administrator and a broad-thinking strategic-thinking leader we are lucky to have to take us into the next chapter of CES,” Hardesty said.
Hardesty also said he was excited for Dr. Imbruce to join the CES team due to her interest in food studies.
“Her interest in food, food culture, [and] food studies has really wide reaching implications for the center and has the opportunity to reach across our programming with some cohesiveness,” he said. “I’m personally excited as the Director of the River and Field Campus because a burgeoning area of programmatic studies and growth is in food and agriculture.”
During the midpoint of the welcoming event, Hardesty took to the microphone to address the crowd of guests. During his speech, he addressed the importance of the Semans Griswold building.
“This past December we crossed a very important milestone,” he said. “It’s not just designed to run on renewable energy, we have to prove it, and we have to prove it with a certain threshold. So, over the course of the last year we have proven that we produce more energy than we consume here in this building.”
After Hardesty’s introduction, President of the College Dr. Michael Sosulski shared his own perspective of Dr. Imbruce’s arrival.
“I’m really thrilled to be here with you to mark the beginning of a new era for WC and CES,” Dr. Sosulski said. “As we prepare to embark on a new strategic plan, which will carry WC towards our 250th anniversary, our role in creating a sustainable future is at the forefront of our thinking.”
While introducing Dr. Imbruce, Dr. Sosulski also said that she was a great addition to the WC community and that she would do great things for the College.
“Today we welcome Dr. Imbruce to our community,” he said. “She will take up the mantle of leadership and be an instrumental partner in working with our faculty and our senior leadership in helping us to move us forward into this new era with great confidence.”
Lastly, Dr. Imbruce herself spoke, thanking everyone for the “warm” welcome and sharing her plans within her new position.
“My heart is so full right now,” Dr. Imbruce said. “This is the warmest welcome I’ve ever had at an institution I have joined.”
Dr. Imbruce went on to share her role of working within the CES as a steward as well as making connections.
“At this point, at this juncture, I am taking the mantle of this institution, stewarding the CES,” she said. “I see myself becoming a steward of what was built before me and it’s really about our connections with each other to move us forward into a sustainable future.”
Dr. Imbruce ended her speech by thanking everyone who was in attendance by sharing her excitement to be at the College.
“I am getting back to the water,” she said. “I can’t wait to explore and learn and work.”
Photo by Parker Thornton
Photo Caption: Dr. Imbruce officially arrived at Semans Griswold this month.