William Jewell College welcomed new president Dr. Elizabeth Macleod Walls to the hill last academic year and will be hosting an Inauguration Ceremony Oct. 20 for the first time in 17 years.
This inauguration will be similar to Dr. David Sallee’s. The same formal convocation and targeted audience members will be seen. However, Clark Morris, Vice President for Advancements and co-chair of the Inauguration Committee, witnessed the inauguration of Dr. Sallee and believes this event will have a unique feeling.
“It’s a different day at Jewell today,” said Morris. “Elizabeth is young on the scale of college presidents, which I think speaks highly of her ability and talent. She is the first woman to hold the role of president at William Jewell, and that’s a piece of progress for us as an institution. And she’s also the first non-Baptist, and I think that also speaks to us being a more open, inclusive place than we were 16 years ago.”
The ceremony was intentionally delayed to allow Dr. Macleod Walls to experience a year at Jewell. The goal was for her to build relationships within the community so the inauguration wouldn’t be her introduction but instead a celebration attended by individuals who know her and are excited for her future at Jewell.
“Had we done this at this time last year, it would’ve been unfair to ask Elizabeth to say anything really thoughtful about Jewell. This gave her the chance to peel back Jewell and really study it and learn it and get to know it from all of us and to be reflective and thoughtful about what she wants to say at this moment,” said Morris.
The celebration will begin with events Wednesday Oct. 18 and culminate Saturday Oct. 21, when the Harriman-Jewell series presents violinist Joshua Bell.
Wednesday during Jewell Time, the chapel service will focus on the Inauguration and is open to all of campus and the community as usual. A reception will follow in the Yates-Gill Union. Wednesday evening’s event is a karaoke contest tailored specifically to students. The competition will be judged by Dr. Macleod Walls, professor of religion Dr. Bradley Chance and provost Dr. Anne Dema. Acts will be judged based on song choice, costume and style, crowd engagement and performance and theatrics, not talent. A Google document will be sent out to students for sign-ups and a table will also be set up in the Union. Limited spaces will be reserved for last minute additions the night of the event. Prizes ranging from Cardinal Dollars to parking spaces will be gifted to both contestants and audience members. The competition will begin at 7:30 p.m. on the Trotter Arts Plaza, weather permitting. The backup location is the Yates-Gill Union Atrium.
Thursday evening is the Stakeholder’s Dinner, a private event for Dr. Macleod Walls and high level donors and trustees. It will be off campus at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. According to Morris, the venue was chosen to “represent the philanthropic backing of this new president.”
The official Inauguration Ceremony is Friday Oct. 20 starting with a processional around the quad at 10 a.m. The processional will stop in the Pryor Learning Commons to allow audience members to find a seat in Gano Chapel. It will then restart and proceed into the chapel where Dr. Macleod Walls will give her address.
“That’s one of the most important moments of her early career as president here and hopefully is a launching-off point for the vision and where we are going as a college with Elizabeth,” said Morris.
While the main component of the Inauguration is Dr. Macleod Walls’ speech, three other faculty members were appointed to contribute. Nano A. Nore, professor of art, created a piece of visual artwork. Assistant professor of music Dr. Anthony J. Maglione composed a choral anthem. Assistant professor of English Dr. Ruth C. Williams wrote a piece of poetry specifically for the event.
Specific rows have been reserved for different campus groups, but all individuals are welcome to attend the ceremony.
“There will be community members that come representing different colleges and universities across the country, and so it’s not just an internal celebration. It’s a large community celebration of Elizabeth as president of Jewell,” said Morris.
A sit-down luncheon in the Mabee Center will follow the ceremony for students and community members who have volunteered to help during the events.
The inaugural celebration will culminate Saturday Oct. 21 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. An alumni reception will be held before the event, and Dr. Macleod Walls will be presented on stage.
“It’s a historic moment in the life of the College and an important one and one that we want to make sure that Elizabeth feels fully welcomed and integrated into the life of the College,” said Morris.
Photo by Kyle Rivas