Video by Joe O'Neill; Photos by Carl Socolow '77
Dickinsonians, local community members and delegates from more than 60 colleges and universities celebrated the inauguration of Margee Ensign as the 29th president of Dickinson College. Throughout the ceremony, Ensign and other speakers highlighted Dickinson's commitment to a useful education for the common good.
“Dickinson has never been an ivory tower,” said Ensign. “Dickinson is a place where students and faculty go out into our local neighborhood, out to the far reaches of the globe, to learn firsthand about problems … and to work for the common good.”
Board of Trustees Chair John Jones '77, P'11, presided over the ceremony, which was highlighted by a keynote address from Vice President Emeritus of the Republic of Uganda Gilbert Bukenya, who met Ensign when she spoke before the Uganda Parliament and has known her for 23 years.
"This college could not have chosen anyone better than Dr. Ensign," said Bukenya, a physician, consultant, researcher and educator who has contributed significantly to global public health and fought for human rights and democracy for the last four decades. "Under her stewardship, Dickinson College will stride into new frontiers that will remain memorable in the annals of its history."
Vice President Emeritus of the Republic of Uganda Gilbert Bukenya addresses the audience.
Bukenya's speech was followed by prayers from Stephen Mamza, bishop of the Yola Diocese in Northeast Nigeria, and Hajjia Turai A.A. Kadir, American University of Nigeria's community projects organizer. The ceremony also included performances from Frederick Schlick ’14 and Chelsea Mia Pierre ’18 as well as greetings and well wishes from Carlisle, alumni, student, staff and faculty representatives:
Ensign urges the community to join her in Dickinson's historic mission of using the liberal arts to work toward the common good.
After donning the official robes designating her as the college president, Ensign addressed the audience and explained how she plans to strengthen Dickinson's foundational commitment to using the liberal arts to positively impact the wider world. Noting that Benjamin Rush founded Dickinson as the first college in the newly independent United States explicitly to prepare engaged citizens for the betterment of the new country and the world, she stressed that this kind of education is needed just as much now as it was in 1783.
To illustrate the power of this kind of education, Ensign, asked five alumni attending the ceremony to stand as she detailed how each is currently living Dickinson’s mission:
Characterizing the Dickinson experience as "an education in liberation," Ensign closed by urging the community to join her in this historic mission. “Join me here at Dickinson," she said, "as we continue to build a community—a vigorous, questioning, contending and searching learning community—quite gloriously established to strive for the common good in our times.”
The college community celebrated Ensign's inauguration Thursday through Saturday with a host of events and activities highlighting Dickinson's commitment to a useful education for the common good. Held during the college's 2017 Homecoming & Family Weekend, events included a Civic Engagement Celebration; Day of Caring, a campuswide community service effort; the Arts for the Common Good Symposium; and a campus expo highlighting how faculty and staff prepare students to be change agents in the local, national and global communities.
Dickinsonians sing the alma mater at the close of the inauguration ceremony.
For more on the inauguration celebration, view albums of photos from the ceremony and related events on Facebook, read speeches from the ceremony and check out the inauguration Storify page for reactions from the Dickinson community on social media.
Published October 7, 2017