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Bethlehem, Pa., April 4, 2014—Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary will celebrate the installation of Bryon L. Grigsby ’90 as the 16th president of Moravian College on Saturday, April 12, in Archibald Johnston Hall on the institution’s Main Street Campus. The ceremony is part of a weekend of events intended to formally introduce the College’s new president—both to the greater Lehigh Valley region and to higher education institutions—and to recognize the achievements of America’s sixth-oldest college.
The inaugural installation ceremony and associated festivities are co-chaired trustee Andy Hart ’90, and his wife, Eli Shute Hart ’91, who were appointed by President Grigsby and the Moravian College Joint Board of Trustees. “The change in leadership at the presidential level of the institution is one of the most significant and important transitions a college makes, and it gives us tremendous pride to see our classmate and friend prove himself to be the right person to lead Moravian College into the future,” said Andy Hart. “As alumni, there is no better time to recommit ourselves to supporting Moravian College and Bryon as they continue to perform the worthy mission of preparing students for leadership in the world today and into the future.”
In keeping with President Grigsby’s commitment to make Moravian even more unified, accessible and inviting, the ceremony and the celebrations throughout the weekend will expand upon tradition and include many events open to students, faculty, staff, alumni and neighbors in the Lehigh Valley community, and friends across the nation.
The inaugural celebration kicks off on Friday, April 11, with a Hall of Presidents Rededication at 6 p.m. in Comenius Hall. The space will be formally rededicated and include the unveiling of former president Christopher M. Thomforde’s portrait, completed by artist Ellen Cooper this past fall. It will be followed by an event titled “The Moravian Presidency, 1969-2014: Challenges of Higher Education,” an overview of 45 years of leadership by former Moravian presidents Herman E. Collier Jr., Roger H. Martin, and Christopher M. Thomforde. The discussion, moderated by student trustee Trevor Glanville ’14, will begin at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, April 12, a campus volunteer event, titled “Hounds Around the Grounds,” will feature a community service project on both the Main Street and the Priscilla Payne Hurd campuses. It begins at 9 a.m. An inaugural lunch follows at 11:30 a.m., with the installation ceremony in Archibald Johnston Hall scheduled for 2:30 p.m. An academic procession will start at 2 p.m. The College will host several speakers during the inaugural ceremony, including Robert Burcaw, professor emeritus of English at Moravian College and Grigsby’s former teacher; Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University and Grigsby’s former colleague, and Tim Semonich ’15, Moravian’s United Student Government president. Other individuals providing greetings to the president are Andy Hart ’90, trustee and honorary inaugural co-chair; Joyce Hinnefeld and Deborah Appler, faculty members; Helen Coleshill, a Seminary student; Robert Donchez, Bethlehem mayor; and Carmen Twillie Ambar, Cedar Crest College president and chair of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVIAC).
Saturday’s events continue into the evening with “Past, Present, Future: Moravian Traditions,” an inaugural jazz concert, with a reception to follow, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will include the Moravian College BIG Band, consisting of approximately 25 undergraduate musicians, and the Moravian College Jazz Hounds, a Big Band composed of Moravian College alumni. The big bands won’t be just sharing a stage, but playing simultaneously as one. In addition to this potential groundbreaking performance, the concert will feature a student-composed piece by Chris Aguayo ’15 and Michael McAndrew ’15. The piece is titled “Mighty Mo,” a more-than-subtle reference to Moravian College, as well as President Grigsby’s greyhound, Mo.
Inauguration weekend will conclude on Sunday, April 13, with a worship service in the Bahnson Center, followed by a reception. The service will begin at 10 a.m.
Grigsby’s first collegiate encounter with Bob Burcaw didn’t produce imaginings of a would-be president of Moravian College. In fairness, that impression had more to do with the student’s crutches and the cast on his leg than his aptitude. (A soccer injury got the best of Grigsby, Burcaw recalled.) However, by the end of their first term together, completed more than 25 years ago, Burcaw was serving as Grigsby’s advisor, sharing insight on how to navigate the student’s academic journey. In the semesters that followed, Grigsby “caught fire” in the classroom and the community, becoming a campus leader. This was the beginning of what Burcaw called a “lifelong friendship, one I continue to cherish to this day.”
Prior to their five-year stint as colleagues at Shenandoah, a liberal arts university located in Winchester, Virginia, Fitzsimmons and Grigsby actually met during a chance encounter at an academic conference three years beforehand. The duo immediately clicked. When Fitzsimmons was later elevated to Shenandoah’s presidency, Grigsby essentially replaced her as the institution’s academic vice president in 2008.“We had an immediate sense of being colleagues and peers, knowing we could do good work together,” recalled Fitzsimmons, who is a member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities board of directors. “He was a terrific colleague and continues to be a good friend. I was honored when he approached me to speak at his inauguration.”
During his tenure at Shenandoah, Grigsby actively sought out ways to help others and improve the institution, Fitzsimmons explained. “He is also a visionary,” she added. “Bryon is one of those people who has the gift to enter a new situation, to look around and assess it, ask some questions, and then emerge with a clear and compelling vision. That is a great skill.” Fitzsimmons saw firsthand the passion Grigsby maintains for his alma mater. “Moravian is very dear to his heart, and always has been,” she said. “Most presidents develop a deep loyalty to an institution over time, but Bryon has always had that feeling for Moravian.”
In his first year at Moravian, Semonich is just beginning his Moravian story. This fact, his recent arrival on campus, gave the USG president hesitation when asked to represent the students at inauguration. “For the last couple of months, I have been thinking, ‘Why do I get this great opportunity to speak at inauguration?’” Semonich asked. “I’m a transfer student who has been here less than a year. Why should I be the one to welcome our president as our student representative?”
As he nears the completion of his first year on campus, Semonich has come to understand the caring nature of the College’s community. From the dining services and campus safety staff to his course professors, and everyone else in between, Semonich said he has built relationships that have made this campus a supportive atmosphere.“ What I want to express in my remarks is that it’s amazing that this College can make someone feel at home in just a short amount time,” he said. “People have really welcomed me with open arms, and I know others are experiencing that same thing.”
At the conclusion of his talk, Semonich will hold the rare distinction of having spoken at two presidential inaugurations. He spoke at the inauguration of Mark Erickson, president of Northampton Community College in October 2012.
For more information about the Moravian’s inauguration, including details about the schedule, contact the Inaugural Office at 610-861-1467. Visit the Inauguration website at http://www.moravian.edu/inauguration. Moravian College encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. Anyone who anticipates needing any type of accommodation or who has questions about the physical access provided should contact Michael Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610 861-1365.
Moravian College is a private coeducational liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college and the first to educate women. Moravian emphasizes the deliberate integration of a broad-based liberal arts curriculum with hands-on learning experiences to effectively prepare its 1,600 students, not just for jobs, but for successful careers. Moravian College excels at transforming good students into highly competent graduates that are ready to enter the workplace with confidence or shine in graduate school. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.