Moravian Inaugurates Bryon Grigsby ’90 as College’s 16th President
On April 12, in front of a Johnston Hall crowd at his alma mater, Bryon L. Grigsby ’90 was officially welcomed home.
In a ceremony steeped in tradition and pageantry, featuring prominent academic and community members, Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary formally installed Grigsby as the College’s 16th president.
Grigsby used the occasion to reflect on the College’s history, his own educational experiences on campus, and the future of the institution, calling for Moravian to become a "new type of liberal arts college.” (To view the College's photo gallery of the ceremony, click here.)
“Let’s not be comfortable with the status quo of liberal arts colleges,” Grigsby told the crowd during his Inaugural address. “Let’s be revolutionary. Let’s make up our own definition of a liberal arts college, just as our founders did. Our students deserve it. Our College can do it. Our nation needs it.”
Grigsby urged those assembled at Johnston Hall to embrace both innovation and community, while maintaining the academic excellence the College has offered for centuries. He later called community and innovation “the hallmarks of Moravian culture,” and the new president has already pushed the campus forward technologically with the introduction of its All-Macbook Pro campus beginning in fall 2014.
The College, he added, must ensure students graduate with the technical skills they need in their future careers. Grigsby championed that Moravian must expand internship possibilities, increase research opportunities, and look at initiating co-op programs to better prepare students for post-graduation life.
“I believe that our society is once again calling on us to bring about a new liberal arts college that balances the theoretical with the practical. That helps the student learn by doing and prepares the students for both satisfying lives and worthwhile careers,” he said.
ABOVE: Past Moravian Presidents Roger H. Martin (left), Christopher M. Thomforde (second from right) and Herman E. Collier (right) pose with current President Bryon L. Grigsby '90.
ABOVE: USG President Timothy Semonich ’15, who thanked President Grigsby for his accessibility and leadership, addresses the crowd Saturday in Johnston Hall.
Grigsby’s arrival was trumpeted by a litany of prominent features from both the College’s on-campus community and off, including Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez and Cedar Crest College President Carmen Twillie Ambar.
On behalf of the College and Seminary faculty members, Joyce Hinnefeld, associate professor of English, and Deborah Appler, associate professor of Hebrew Bible, spoke to the audience. Likewise, United Student Government (USG) President Timothy Semonich ’15 and Seminary student Helen Coleshill presented on behalf of Moravian students. Appler and Semonich detailed the new president’s accessibility and availability, with the USG president recalling that Grigsby even attended an informal USG meeting at the undergraduate’s apartment.
Two speakers, Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University, and Robert Burcaw ’51, Grigsby’s former professor, recounted stories of just how dear Moravian is to its new president.
Fitzsimmons, who hired Grigsby as a vice president for academic affairs at Shenandoah before he left for Moravian, recalled how the former Greyhound spoke openly of his desire to return to Bethlehem. During one of their first meetings to discuss his personal aspirations, Grigsby told her that becoming Moravian’s president was near the top of his list. The conversation occurred in 2008.
When Grigsby landed the sought-after role last year, “I have rarely seen someone ever be so happy,” Fitzsimmons said. “He was going to the place that he said was home.”
Two decades earlier, Burcaw recalls Grigsby predicted he would someday serve as Moravian’s president. “Back in 1990, after Bryon graduated – and he graduated well – he came up to me and said, ‘Doc, someday I’m going to be president of Moravian College.’” Burcaw stated. “I swear, he told me that. After only 24 years … here he is.”
After the inauguration’s formal investiture by Ken Rampolla ’79, chair of the Joint Board of Trustees, Grigsby took the podium and began simply with, "Wow, some dreams do come true.”
“I am truly honored to be here today and humbled,” he continued. “This is an immense honor to serve my alma mater – to serve my ‘soul mother.’ Alma mater means soul mother. To become the president of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary has indeed been a dream for me.”
A Special Thanks to:
Honorary Inaugural Co-chairs
Andrew W. Hart ’90 & Elinor Shute Hart ’91
Inaugural Committee Members
Deborah Evans, Chair, Office of the President
Nicole Rodriguez, Secretary
Pat Hanna, Career Services
Sylvia Doyle, Development
Tommy Kopetskie, Public Relations
Amy McHenry, Academic Affairs
Timothy Semonich ’15
Jane Weber, Seminary
Liz Yates, Student Affairs
Additionally, a general thank you to the entire campus community for its efforts in planning the Inaugural events and festivities.
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