To Seek a Newer World

The October Inauguration of S. Georgia Nugent featured art, ceremony, and down-to-earth learning

With art, ceremony, high intellect, down-to-earth learning, and some fun as well, Kenyon inaugurated S. Georgia Nugent as its eighteenth president. Inaugural festivities, spanning the weekend of October 24 to 26, included an array of events reflecting the theme that Nugent had chosen for the occasion, "to seek a newer world." The phrase, from Tennyson's poem "Ulysses," resonated for her, Nugent said in her inaugural address on Saturday, October 25, in part because it suggests the idea of crossing boundaries. That idea is certainly a fitting one for Nugent, who crossed a significant boundary in becoming the College's first female president.

But it also proved an apt idea for the entire inaugural weekend, which featured many activities designed to reach across boundaries--between past and present, art and science, the campus and the wider community of Knox County. The afternoon of Friday, October 24, for example, was devoted to a program called "Hands On: Discover Kenyon and Knox County," offering twenty "active learning" opportunities both on- and off-campus. College offices were closed and the class schedule truncated, so that faculty and staff members along with students could join area residents in activities that ranged from exploring wetlands, to reading Maya hieroglyphs, to writing poetry, to learning dance steps for the inaugural ball.

Friday evening reached across musical genres with a concert called "Guitar Wizards," bringing together celebrated instrumentalists from three traditions--classical, country, and African. After the concert, student singing groups performed outdoors while the windows of Old Kenyon were illuminated with a message of welcome for the new president.

On Saturday morning, Kenyon alumni and faculty members participated in panel discussions on three topics related to the inaugural theme--"Linking the Arts and Sciences in a Liberal Education," "Kenyon and the World Beyond Middle Path," and "Ancient Voices in a Postmodern World."

This last topic reflected Nugent's own background as a scholar of the classics. One of the nation's leading figures in that discipline was on hand for the weekend. Robert Fagles of Princeton, a friend of Nugent's and an eminent translator renowned for his modern renderings of the Homeric epics, treated a packed hall on Saturday morning to readings from his translation of The Odyssey.

Fagles also spoke at the president's installation ceremony, which took place Saturday afternoon in the Ernst Center. (A threat of rain forced the planners to go with the indoor option for the event.) Nearly one hundred delegates representing other colleges and universities attended the installation.

David W. Horvitz, chairman of the Kenyon Board of Trustees, officially installed Nugent as the president. Joining them on the platform, and offering words of welcome, were representatives of the faculty, administration, staff, student body, parents, and alumni. A special guest, also on the platform, was Philip H. Jordan Jr., the College's sixteenth president, who bestowed upon Nugent the presidential medallion.

The weekend came to a close with an all-faith worship service on Sunday, followed by a fall celebration at the Brown Family Environmental Center.

And so, with traditions bespeaking continuity, Kenyon entered a new era. On college campuses, Nugent said in her inaugural address, "there is a constant sense . . . of renewal . . . . Enrolling in a new course, meeting a new friend, opening a new book, trying a new activity, studying a new language, embarking on a new research project--all of these are opportunities to reimagine and renew both oneself and one's world."

She invited all to take part in "this endless odyssey of education," and thereby to increase "Kenyon's capacity to act in and transform our world."

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