Saturday April 5, 2014, was not just another leisurely Saturday for the Connecticut College community. As Presidential flags waved in the wind, the sound of bagpipes and the sight of a regal, robed procession of professors created a campus commotion. At 11:00 a.m., the Palmer Auditorium was standing room only as Dr. Katherine Bergeron stepped on the stage in front of students, faculty, mentors, delegates, family, and friends. This almost-spring Saturday, the inauguration of Bergeron as the 11th President of Connecticut College, was also Founders Day, commemorating the birth of this institution in 1911. Connecting the past to the future emerged as a major theme of the ceremony and the numerous events leading up to the festivities. Bergeron also continued to lay the foundation for her “Think.Do.Lead” motif, another inspiration for the Conn Community.
Following the pomp and methodical procession, several musical selections were interspersed throughout “Words of Welcome Greetings.” These melodic pieces represented Bergeron’s passion and major study as well as the arts in a liberal education. Dannel P. Malloy, Governor of Connecticut; Daryl Justin Finizio, Mayor of New London; Steve Loomis, Chair of the Faculty Steering and Conference Committee; and Evert Fowle, President of SGA all expressed warm welcomes to the new President. Expanding the college partnership with the surrounding New London area, developing new faculty awards, being creative and challenging, and judging oneself on actions not words were the topics included in their greetings. One of the ceremony highlights occurred during Alumni of Color Chair, Liza Talusan’s, welcome. She described Bergeron’s family as “enthusiastic” and demanded that instead of small, polite claps, the audience offer Bergeron a real Connecticut College greeting, whereupon the crowd erupted in a rowdy merriment of claps, screams, and woos. On another note, Ruth J. Simmons of Brown University, one of Bergeron’s mentors, gave the keynote address. She encouraged Bergeron to reflect on the college virtue of “charting a unique path” and to be aware of technology as it may become a “shortcut to knowledge.”
After her installation, the new President delivered her inaugural address titled “Transplanted By A River.” Her message embraced a liberal arts education and defended its importance. She emphasized great teachers and mentors and how they can inspire students to reach their dreams; likewise, she stressed the need for students to “pay it forward.” She exemplified several alumni at the forefront of their fields such as David Barber, president and co-owner of Blue Hill restaurant in New York. Barber and other notable alumni have been paying back to their communities. Furthermore, Bergeron invited the audience to remember the school’s motto “Tanquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum.” The motto, from the 1st Psalm, imparts inspiration about nature especially “wood” and “water.” Yes, Bergeron explained that Connecticut College was formed in the middle of woods on a hill above the Thames River, but this natural connection goes further symbolically. “Wood” and “water” represent not only the stability of the college but also the recklessness and change of Connecticut College and a liberal arts education. Looking forward, Bergeron encouraged that our stable foundation, strong motivation, and desire to discover will enable all at CC to “Think.Do.Lead.”
Bergeron received continuous loud rounds of applause and standing ovations during her introduction and comments. Her reaction was unforgettable and motivational. The new leading lady, dressed in blue and black robes over an elegant black sheath, black pointed heels, gold dangly earrings, and signature square glasses, stood tall as she waved and thanked the crowd with compassion and awe emanating from her eyes and smile. Any member of the audience could tell how grateful and excited she was to begin her tenure at Connecticut College. And so, on Founders Day 2014, with inauguration concluded, a new Presidential flag was born connecting the past with the future!
The staff at Her Campus Conn are very excited to have our school represented and led by a strong and noteworthy female! We wish her much luck!