Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2006


Bold Steps: The Inauguration of Leo I. Higdon, Jr.

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faculty, delegates,staff and students marched to palmer auditorium.


In a ceremony resplendent with the colors of more than 40 flags from around the world and filled with the sounds of music and dance, Leo I. Higdon, Jr. was inaugurated as Connecticut College´s 10th president on Saturday, Oct. 14.

A lone bagpiper led a procession of staff members and students carrying the flags of the United States, Connecticut, the College and 42 flags representing the citizenship of the student body. Delegates representing 50 universities and colleges, current and retired faculty members and members of the board of trustees followed in procession alongside the College Green as hundreds of well-wishers and families gathered for Fall Weekend lined the walkways. The procession passed under nine blue banners, each bearing the name of one of the College´s presidents.

It was a day to celebrate the concept of a liberal arts education as speaker after speaker proclaimed its value.

“Our students are doers as well as thinkers,” said the newly inaugurated Higdon. “The breadth of choices for creating individual ´educational pathways´ — and the guidance provided by both faculty and staff — set Connecticut College apart.”

Higdon harked back to the words of presidents past in his address to a packed Palmer Auditorium, invoking, among others, the words of the late Rosemary Park, who 45 years ago said the “best preparation for assuming responsibility [for the shape of the future] is a liberal arts education.”
He called the liberal arts “the most practical preparation for a life that is meaningful, purposeful and well-lived.” And he spoke of the College´s own future with a voice resonant with purpose. Calling the College “a progressive, 21st-century vision of global education,” Higdon said, “we intend to be a national leader in it.

“We will succeed because of the power of our vision and our mission,” he said. Higdon was presented with the College Charter and, setting a new tradition, the Presidential Medallion, by Barbara Shattuck Kohn ´72, chair of the board of trustees.

In her keynote address, Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said a liberal arts education is “essential, not elective” and “holds the keys to the future.

“It is a must-have for all Americans,” she said, “not just a ´nice-to-have´ for some Americans.”

The audience gave a standing ovation to Avalon L. Paul, a senior dance major who performed “Jump Down” to music by the funk music group Parliament.
The ceremony was further enriched by greetings brought by Valerie F. Lewis, Connecticut Commissioner of Higher Education, on behalf of the state; by Mayor Elizabeth A. Sabilia on behalf of New London; and by Barry Mills, president of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and an executive committee member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference to which Connecticut College belongs.

Afterward, guests enjoyed a picnic on the green, Harvestfest and athletic games between Bowdoin and Connecticut College. l

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