|Ross Inaugurates His Presidency with a Call to Maintain Values Through Change
October 30, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
Read the complete text of President Ross's inaugural address.
At his inauguration ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 27, Davidson President Thomas W. Ross explained his vision of how the college must “change to stay the same.”
|President Ross receives the ceremonial mace of office from Board of Trustees chair John McCartney '74.|
Ross spoke to a large audience in Belk Arena that included about 100 colorfully robed delegates from other educational institutions, Davidson faculty members robed equally colorfully in their academic regalia, Davidson College seniors in plain black graduation robes, and relatives of students who came to campus for Family Weekend activities.
Ross said, “Together, we must plan for and welcome change so that we can preserve the traditions, values, and culture that we treasure and that define the Davidson we know today.”
Receiving the ceremonial mace of office from Board of Trustees Chair John McCartney, the former N.C. Superior Court Judge and Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation thanked those who conducted the presidential search for their confidence. “To assume this position and its opportunities and challenges is a privilege in life I promise to treasure and respect each and every day by investing, at my highest possible level, my mind, heart, energy, and best efforts to the betterment of this special place,” he said.
Ross said the college must not compromise its academic rigor, excellence in teaching, loyalty to the Presbyterian Church and its Reformed theological tradition, adherence to the Honor Code, and encouragement of lives of leadership and service. He cited ways in which the college has already adapted to change, such as its embrace of coeducation. Changes that will further challenge Davidson include globalization, technological innovation, North Carolina’s rapid population growth, and the increasing percentage of people of color.
He quoted a source as saying, “The future is not a place we are going. It is a place we are creating,” and concluded with a pledge that “The challenge that I gleefully and joyfully accept today is to guide this special place through the seas of change ahead… to ensure that the values, traditions, and culture of Davidson College we treasure today remain the same.”
Ross’s appointment to the Davidson presidency was announced March 29, and his appointment became effective August 1.
Following Ross’s inauguration speech, the ceremonies continued with announcement of several Fall Convocation awards.
Two faculty members were honored. I. Job Thomas, professor of history and director of the South Asian Studies Program, received the annual Thomas Jefferson Award, which recognizes personal influence, teaching, writing, and scholarship that promote Jefferson’s high ideals.
|Prof. Job Thomas acknowledges the crowd as he receives the Thomas Jefferson Award.|
A native of India, Thomas was honored as a “person with a life-long mission” of bringing two worlds together. After joining the Davidson College faculty in 1979, Thomas initiated the college’s semester in India program, and has regularly escorted students, faculty, and staff on study tours of his homeland. His citation noted, “Their exposure to the peoples, the beauty, the sounds, the smells, the richness, the sadness, the architecture, and the history of India literally awakes a consciousness in our students. They return different, but in such good ways.”
A noted scholar and teacher of South Asian art and architecture, Thomas has delivered prestigious invited lectures in India, and has published works of renown on art in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The college also announced a Boswell Family Faculty Fellowship for Daniel M. Boye, professor of physics at Davidson since 1989. The fellowship allows faculty members to take a full-year, full-paid sabbatical, and will provide support for Boye’s research related to sol-gel chemistry, a process that contributes to making optical materials.
Boye was honored for generously giving to both college and community through his capacities as a teacher and professional vocalist, and through service on college committees.
Four students were honored at Saturday’s Convocation. The Alumni Association recognized Julia B. Ward of Port Orange, Fla., as the sophomore attaining the highest grade point average during the first year. Three students were recognized for their community service efforts with Goodwin-Exxon Awards—senior Amy M. Killian of Chattanooga, junior Richmond P. Blake of Eighty Four, Pa., and sophomore Darrell L. Scott of Little Rock.
Audience members who had arrived in drizzly weather exited to bright blue skies, sunshine, and a fancy lunch packed in a keepsake picnic basket. The college had transformed Knobloch Tennis Center into an enormous dining room, and set up still more chairs for the 3,300 prepared meals under a huge tent on an adjoining athletic field. Those meals that went uneaten were delivered to three homeless shelters in Charlotte.
Davidson is a highly selective liberal arts colleges 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