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It was a sunny, crisp fall day on the Hill as faculty, staff, students and alumni converged with distinguished leaders of state and academia to embrace the 7th president of Nichols College, Dr. Susan West Engelkemeyer, with a formal ceremony and warm sociability on Friday, Oct. 21st.
Grand Marshall Libba G. Moore, associate dean for business administration, led the inauguration procession from the Athletic Center, past Budleigh Residence Hall to Daniels Auditorium on Center Road where Dr. Engelkemeyer’s family and friends were waiting.
In the greetings, formal exhortations, and testimonials, a prominent theme recurred: The College’s trademark commitment to student success.
Master of Ceremonies Dr. Edward G. Warren gave a welcome and in introductory remarks, gave a historical synopsis and reflection on Nichols presidents of the past. Warren called 2011 an “auspicious year” in the history of Nichols College: “Nichols was one of an innovative group of private institutions here in New England which in the early 20th Century provided education for a business career…” He noted that presidents such as James L. Conrad, who helped establish Nichols Junior College of Business Administration in 1931-1966, started a pattern of strong, professional and highly dedicated leadership from the front office. “Conrad’s long tenure reveals the talent and durability of not only the president, but also of a cadre of key leaders, senior administration and faculty positions.”
“Today’s ceremony represents Nichols expression of best wishes and full support as the reigns of responsibility are transferred to you (Susan West Engelkemeyer), our new leader, 7th president, and first expert in dressage,” Warren stated. “Welcome to your new position in the Nichols family.”
Dr. Engelkemeyer began her Inaugural Address by thanking the Board of Trustees “for their leadership and intense commitment to Nichols College” and her family for sharing in and shaping her life’s journey.
“We are here today to celebrate the past, present and future of this remarkable institution,” she said, “with the knowledge that while educational institutions grow and change over time, the enduring ones retain the best of their traditions and values.”
“Making a difference in the lives of our graduates is central to our mission. Nichols has survived for the past 196 years because of its unwavering commitment to that mission in the face of challenging times,” she continued.
President Engelkemeyer stated that in the future, “…together, we will polish this “hidden gem” and focus on what does and will distinguish us as we enter our third century".
“Dan Seymour, in his book Once Upon a Campus, remarked that ‘sailing a ship across the Pacific is no different from organizing a college or university for performance improvement. In both instances, it is immensely helpful if we can come to some agreement on which way to aim the pointy end.’
“As we begin to aim our pointy end, the charge I have given myself is to honor the past, cherish the tradition of a practical, career-focused education, build on the momentum of the present, and make sure the pointy end of the ship is heading in the direction that will enable us to make the next evolution; to reach the next level.”
Soloist Gina Beck, accompanied on piano by Leonardo Ciampa, led the audience in singing “America the Beautiful.” Later in the program, in a musical interlude, she sang “Where the Music Comes From” by Lee Hoiby. The musical prelude and recessional was performed by Quintessential Brass.
The invocation and benediction was given by Joseph Shea, a Nichols campus minister.
The dais party included: Senator Richard T. Moore, Reverend John R. White, William F. Glavin (former president of Babson College), Dianne Lynch (president, Stephens College), Nichols Trustee James W. Coghlin Sr., President of the Alumni Board of Directors William F. O’Connell Jr., Student Government President Edward J. Baia, Nichols Faculty Senate Chairman Dr. Timothy J. Liptrap, and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee John H. Davis. John H. McClutchy Jr., chairman of the Board of Trustees, presided over the Ceremony of Investiture.