|Davidson Family Will Gather to Inaugurate Ross as Its Top 'Cat
October 23, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
Because of a forecast for rain throughout the week and on Saturday, the Inauguration ceremony will be held in Baker Sports Complex. The doors will be opened beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Davidson will inaugurate Thomas W. Ross as its seventeenth president with a blend of pomp, ceremony, black ties, and bluegrass.
|Thomas W. Ross will be inaugurated as Davidson's seventeenth president on Saturday, Oct. 27 (Chris Record photo)|
It will definitely be "A great day to be a Wildcat!" as Ross is fond of saying. A huge crowd is expected on campus for the Saturday morning, October 27 ceremony. “We’ve rented every chair in a three-state area!” joked Leslie Marsicano, assistant dean for academic administration, who has spent the past four months planning the event.
The actual number is 8,000 chairs, which should be enough for the expected 3,500 guests to have a seat at both the 10:30 a.m. ceremony and the noon luncheon that will follow.
The celebration begins Thursday evening, when President Ross and his wife, Susan, will host a Southern-style banquet for all Davidson students at Vail Commons. The menu will include fried chicken, pinto beans, corn bread, with “cow tails and Moon Pies” for dessert. The Steep Canyon Rangers bluegrass band, voted “Emerging Artists of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association, will play.
The celebratory tone will be a bit different Friday evening, when the Rosses will host a black-tie dinner for college leadership.
The number of on-campus guests will swell Friday not only with college leaders, but with hundreds of relatives of current students, who will enjoy the Inauguration as one event in a full slate of Family Weekend activities that also includes athletic competitions, music and dance recitals, the International Festival, and production of the mainstage play, Women Beware Women.
Saturday morning’s festivities will combine the Inauguration ceremonies with the college’s traditional Fall Convocation. The event will begin with a procession in academic regalia of senior class students, faculty, and delegates from about 100 other educational institutions. Delegates will march ordered by the date their institutions were founded, led by Harvard (1693) and anchored by Union Seminary— Charlotte campus (2002).
Many institutions which are unable to send delegates in person have sent letters and certificates of greeting to President Ross, and they are posted for view in the hallway of the President’s Office wing of Chambers Building.
Once all parties have been seated at the Inauguration ceremony, seven representatives constituencies such as the Town of Davidson, alumni, staff, and students will offer brief greetings to President Ross. He will be officially introduced by Paul R. Leonard ’62, trustee and chair of the Presidential Selection Committee. Presidents emeriti Robert F. Vagt ’69 and Samuel R. Spencer ’40 will then present Ross for inauguration to John F. McCartney ’74, chair of the Board of Trustees. (Davidson’s other living President emeritus, John W. Kuykendall ’59, will be unable to attend the ceremony.)
|Davidson Presidents from 1968 to present (l-r) John Kuykendall (1984-1997), Tom Ross (2007-), Sam Spencer (1968-1983), and Robert Vagt (1997-2007). Portraits of all Davidson Presidents are viewable on the Archives page.|
For the first time in college history, a new president will be sworn in with an official Oath of Office. “Early presidents just started work, and one recent president made up his own,” explained Marsicano. “Everyone agreed we should be a little more intentional about it, and Dean of Students emeritus Will Terry ’54 drafted one that the Board of Trustees approved at its most recent meeting.”
After McCartney administers the oath, President Ross will begin the Fall Convocation part of the program with a keynote speech. His address will concern the challenges Davidson faces in “embracing change to stay the same.” He will cite cherished college traditions such as the Honor Code and high intellectual ideals, and emphasize the importance of maintaining them while also embracing increasing demographic diversity and the inevitable population growth in the region.
Following his remarks, President Ross will oversee recognition of excellence in teaching, learning, and service with Fall Convocation awards. They include the Boswell Family Faculty Fellowship and Thomas Jefferson Award to faculty members, the Alumni Association Award to a sophomore for highest grade point average during the first year, and Goodwin-Exxon Awards for community service to a sophomore, junior, and senior.
As the ceremony concludes, students, faculty, staff, parents, and invited guests will enjoy a luncheon elsewhere on the front part of the campus, while other visitors will be invited to brunch at Vail Commons.
The inauguration highlights an eventful year for the Ross family. Tom and Susan’s daughter, Mary Kathryn ’01, was married during Orientation Weekend, barely a month after Tom Ross began work. Now it appears the family will begin preparing for another wedding, with the recent announcement of the engagement of their other child, Tommy ’99.
Looming over the multitude of tasks that are occupying Marsicano this week as the Inauguration approaches is the spectre of inclement weather. Rain plans have been made, with events moving into Baker Sports Complex, but common wisdom would see soggy skies as a damper on the day’s festivities.
Marsicano admitted that bad weather worry nagged her throughout the planning process, until a recent fortuitous conversation with Gail Gibson, Kenan Professor of English and Humanities, brightened her spirits.
Marsicano said, “I was worrying out loud about rain, and fearing that the longer our current drought goes on, the greater the chance it’ll rain on Saturday. But Gail made me realize that rain would actually be a wonderful portent for Tom Ross’s presidency. He would be bringing us exactly what we need at the time we need it! I’ve looked at it differently since then. If it rains we’re going to celebrate just as much!”
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
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Posted By: Bill Giduz