Inaugural Speakers to Reflect on Grigsby’s Vision, Loyalty
Grigsby’s Former Professor and Former Colleague to Provide Remarks
Bryon L. Grigsby’s first collegiate encounter with Bob Burcaw, professor emeritus of English, 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 term together, completed nearly 25 years ago, Burcaw was serving as Grigsby’s advisor, sharing insight on how to conquer 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.”
Through emails and letters, as well as personal visits to Chicago and Winston-Salem, N.C., where Grigsby completed graduate work, Burcaw and his former pupil have remained close in the years since. In a fitting tribute to their friendship, Burcaw will serve as one of a handful of speakers at the College’s April 12 Inaugural Ceremony, which will formally install Grigsby as the Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary’s 16th president.
In addition to Burcaw, the invited speakers include 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, LVAIC chair.
Prior to their five-year stint as colleagues at Shenandoah, a liberal arts university located in Winchester, Va., 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 presidential position, 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 NAICU 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.”
Most presidents develop a deep loyalty to an institution over time, but Bryon has always had that feeling for Moravian.”
– Tracy Fitzsimmons
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.”
Like Semonich, Burcaw encountered a moment of anxiety when asked to speak at Inauguration. “When Bryon asked me, I think I panicked for 30 seconds, but it quickly subsided,” recalled Burcaw, noting the cyclical nature of attending both Grigsby’s graduation and Inauguration. “It will be a pleasure to speak on his behalf, but I don’t want to say too much now and steal all my thunder from my remarks at Inauguration.”
For more information about the Moravian’s Inauguration, including details about the schedule, contact the Inaugural Office at 610-861-1467. Or visit the Inaugural website, www.moravian.edu/inauguration.
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