Useful Education for the Common Good

Margee Ensign

Margee Ensign.

Margee Ensign Inaugurated as Dickinson's 29th President

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.”

Striding into New Frontiers

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.

Greetings and Well Wishes

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:

  • “Dickinson College is an integral part of our community, and our relationship dates back to the Revolutionary War. We hope to continue that special relationship and strengthen it under your leadership.” —Timothy Scott, Mayor of Carlisle. 
  • “In your short time on campus, we have already seen the energy you bring to Dickinson, from dancing with us during move-in to being eager to connect with any student you pass.” —Steven “Chris” Jones ’19.
  • “As president of the Alumni Council and on behalf of all alumni, I am honored to welcome your leadership to this institution that lives within all of us who were forever changed by our time here.” —David Carlson ’99.
  • “It is my honor and my pleasure to be able to offer a greeting from the staff here at Dickinson College. … I offer you our best wishes and our promise to work with you to fulfill your vision for our college.” —Dottie Warner, director of event planning and Holland Union Building.
  • “As scholars, as teachers and as members of this fine college, we admire your encompassing spirit, your international perspective, your vitality and your vision for making this an even greater institution.” —Amy Farrell, professor of American studies and women's, gender & sexuality studies and John J. Curley '60 and Ann Conser Curley '63 Faculty Chair in the Liberal Arts. 

'An Education in Liberation'

Margee Ensign

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:

  • Brian Kamoie ’93, acting associate administrator (and permanent deputy associate administrator) for mission support at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who has recently been on the front line of our country’s response to this season’s catastrophic hurricanes.
  • Artrese Morrison ’92, director of programs for the Alameda Community Food Bank in Oakland, California, which distributes millions of healthy meals every year and helps families access other forms of assistance.
  • Tsewang Namgyal ’97, who came to Dickinson as a refugee from Tibet, is now a vice president of the Bank of Tokyo and works to use finance for the betterment of society.
  • Valeria Carranza ’09,  deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Congressman Adriano Espaillat, the first formerly undocumented member of Congress and first Dominican American in Congress, Fromerly she was the executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, where she was deeply involved in some of the most important political issues currently facing this country.
  • Wynne Stuart Amick ’62, who was chosen to be a code breaker and security analyst for the National Security Agency and has long been an active volunteer in education and children's causes.

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.”

Celebrating the Inauguration

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. 

Alma Mater

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