ON SEPT. 16, W&L INAUGURATED WILLIAM C. DUDLEY as the
university’s 27th president in a ceremony on the Front Lawn.
“Although liberal arts education is the antithesis of job training, it
also happens to be the best form of professional preparation,” he told the
audience. “It expands our horizons, develops our capacities, and
increases our flexibility. Nothing could be more valuable than that in the
21st century. The liberal arts are not soft and weak, but, like the martial
arts, devastatingly powerful.
“The problem we face is not that liberal arts education is insuffi-
ciently valuable. The problem is that the highest quality liberal arts
education is so valuable that there’s a moral, social and political
imperative to make it more widely available and affordable. This is a
challenge of scale that no single institution can solve, but to which
Washington and Lee does and must contribute.”
Inauguration activities kicked off the previous afternoon, Sept. 15,
with a panel discussion, “Liberal Arts and the Professions.” Suzanne
Keen, dean of the College and Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English,
moderated it. Panelists were Kelly Evans Chemi ’07, representing
journalism; William H. Miller III ’72, representing finance; Dr. Harold E.
Varmus, representing medicine; and the Hon. Gregory H. Woods,
representing law. The panelists, all of whom received undergraduate
degrees from liberal arts institutions, discussed the benefits of a liberal
arts education, and the resulting influence on their varied careers.
The Sept. 16 inauguration ceremony began with a performance of
“America Singing,” an original composition by Shane Lynch, associate
professor of music, and commissioned to celebrate the inauguration. The
piece was performed by the University Singers, accompanied by Bethany
Reitsma ’ 20 and Tiffany Ko ’ 20 on the violin, Allie Jue ’ 20 on the viola,
and Emma Rabuse ’ 20 on the cello.
Ted DeLaney ’85, associate professor of history, and Joan
Shaughnessy, the Roger D. Groot Professor of Law, offered greetings on
behalf of the faculty. Mary Woodson, assistant director of
Communications and Public Affairs, spoke for the staff; Mason Grist ’ 18,
president of the student body, represented the students; Michael R.
McGarry, ’87, president of the Alumni Board of Directors, offered
greetings from alumni; and Lexington City Council member Marylin E.
Alexander welcomed Dudley on behalf of the community.
Also lending their presence to the inauguration were Larry Boetsch
’69, acting president, 2001–2002; Thomas G. Burish, president, 2002–
2005; Harlan R. Beckley, acting president, 2005–2006; and Ken Ruscio
’76, president, 2006–2016.
In addition, students, alumni, faculty and staff, and delegates
represented 65 universities and colleges and five learned societies and
Following introductions by Gregory M. Avis, former chair of the
Williams College board of trustees, and Steven G. Poskanzer, president of
Carleton College, Dudley addressed the crowd.
He built on the foundation laid by the previous day’s panelists in
stressing the importance of the liberal arts in today’s world. Dudley also
reiterated the importance of continuing to work on achieving greater
racial and social diversity on Washington and Lee’s campus, and set a
goal of raising resources to become “one of fewer than 40 schools in the
entire country that practice need-blind admission, while continuing to
meet 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need for every student.”
“The histories of our namesakes and of our institution and of our
nation are delightfully deep and multi-dimensional,” said Dudley. “It is a
pleasure, as well as a necessity, to read them slowly, with open minds and
an appreciation of nuance, with humility that mitigates against easy
judgment, never forgetting that disagreement is compatible with mutual
affection, and that respectful conversation facilitates communal cohesion
rather than corrosion.”
In closing, Dudley offered a reminder of the enjoyment associated
with teaching and learning. “What we do here is also a sheer joy. . . .
Time on a college campus is a gift. Let us not forget to celebrate.”
Read the full text of Dudley’s remarks: go.wlu.edu/inauguration-text
Watch the entire ceremony: go.wlu.edu/inauguration-livestream
“What we do here is a sheer joy,” said President
Dudley. “Time on a college campus is a gift.
Let us not forget to celebrate.”
BY DREWRY SACKETT
PHOTOGRAPHS BY KEVIN REMINGTON