BOSTON (April 2, 2007) — The young and the old, the festive and the solemn, all blended together in an elegantly moving ceremony March 31 for the inauguration of Susan C. Scrimshaw as the 7th president of the century-old college. The inauguration, which marked the formal launching of Scrimshaw's presidency, was the culmination of three days of celebratory and academic events that showcased the past, present, and future vision of Simmons.
"The past is key to our future…the roots of our past must continue to feed the fruit of our future," President Scrimshaw told the hundreds of guests in her inaugural speech in the grand ballroom of Boston's Copley Marriott Hotel. Reminding the audience that John Simmons founded Simmons in 1899 as "a great experiment" and the first women's college to combine liberal arts with career preparation, she said that Simmons has always been "a change agent, whose essence is educating students for leadership, self-reliance, and activism."
She made five pledges to the gathering of Simmons students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends: that the undergraduate college will remain a woman's college, that she will continue to lead Simmons in "global education and action," that she will increase and enhance Simmons's diversity and the environment necessary to nurture that diversity, that she will guide the school in further developing the "great opportunities" provided by the mix of professional schools and liberal arts education, and that she will work with faculty and students to "increase and enhance our academic excellence."
"I pledge the Simmons College degree will always win respect and admiration," she told the audience to resounding applause.
Past Simmons presidents, visiting dignitaries, current students, alumni, faculty and staff took turns welcoming President Scrimshaw to the helm. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he had "no doubts you will lead your team to greater heights than ever before." Dr. William Holmes, Simmons's fourth president, said she had inherited a college with a "faculty and staff dedicated to the teaching of students—far less simple than it sounds."
Dr. Daniel S. Cheever Jr., President Scrimshaw's immediate predecessor who served 11 years as president before his retirement last summer, called her appointment a "great triumph."
"No job is as wonderful," he said. "You have a board of trustees and 50,000 alumni around the world who love Simmons…and Simmons could not have chosen a more fitting scholar and leader. I join the chorus in welcoming you to Simmons."
Lucia Luce Quinn, chair of the Simmons Board of Trustees and a Simmons alumna, said "we found a president who will love Simmons as much as we do…we welcome your leadership and creativity with open hearts and spirits."
As Chair Quinn officially declared Scrimshaw the 7th president of Simmons College, her daughter, San Francisco artist Mary Corey March, placed a presidential medallion around her mother's neck that that she had designed.
The Boston Brass Ensemble, the Boston Children's Chorus, the Simmons Chorale, and the Simmons Gospel Choir provided the music.
As the ceremony ended and the robed faculty, students, alumni and other dignitaries marched back down the aisle led by their new president, one gentleman was overhead remarking to his seatmate: "This was wonderful. I am always impressed by the energy, the enthusiasm, and the commitment to principle of this school."
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Kalimah Redd Knight