Nicole Farmer Hurd’s inauguration ceremony Oct. 1 brought a variety of speakers to the dais and attracted an audience of alumni, students, faculty, and staff eager to witness and discuss the historic moment. Here’s what they had to say.

Rev. Alexandra Hendrickson, College chaplain

Rev. Alex Hendrickson speaks into a microphone

“There is a notion among some folks that ceremonies such as this one are just ceremonial, that we dress up and have a bunch of speakers and sing the alma mater, just because we’ve always done it that way for the 17 previous presidents until now. But if we think of the ceremony as merely a ceremony, we miss out on the enchanted possibilities this day presents to us.

“The inauguration is a moment where we set the direction for the future of the institution and, in many ways, affirm our commitment to the shared values that make us a unique entity. It feels providential that President Hurd so often uses the word community to send her hopes for Lafayette College. So may this gathering be a call to begin anew.”

 

Joshua Smith, associate professor of mechanical engineering and clerk of the faculty

Josh Smith, clerk of the faculty, provided greetings to the president on behalf of the faculty

“Lafayette College will benefit greatly from your experience and insight enhancing student access and inclusion. A new presidency provides an opportunity for the campus community to critically examine its current path and possible future paths. 

“We look forward to working in partnership with you as we undertake this self-reflection so that we, as teachers and scholars, may provide the best education and experience for our students. Lafayette will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2026, and you will lead the College, its faculty and its students into its third century. The faculty are excited to embark on this journey with you, and, to use your words, we are ready to be bold and brave with you.”

 

David Ellis, former Lafayette College president (1978-1990), representing all presidents emeriti

David Ellis, president emeritus of Lafayette College, provided greetings on behalf of presidents emeriti

“President Hurd, as you come to know the College you will learn what a special and wonderful institution it is. Everyone here knows these are unusually challenging times with great opportunities. President Hurd, you bring special talents and experiences to this position. We, your predecessors, like everyone else here, wish you the very best in everything, and we stand ready to be of assistance in any way we can.”

 

Salvatore J. Panto Jr., mayor of Easton

Salvatore J. Panto Jr., mayor of the city of Easton, provided greetings to the president on behalf of the community

“It is my immense privilege and honor to welcome President Nicole Farmer Hurd to our increasingly vibrant college and city. Our entire region shares in my excitement to have your leadership and vision guiding this institution of higher learning. In your short time on campus, we have already seen the passion that you bring to this important position and the commitment you bring to our community.”

 

Flor de Maria Selena Caceres Godoy ’22, president of student government

Flor de Maria Selena Caceres Godoy, Class of 2022, president of student government, provided greetings on behalf of students

“I know this job will be very demanding, and at times you will be forced to make difficult decisions. But please never stop making this a place where all kids can feel at home, a place where future generations, especially first-generation, low-income, undocumented, international or Black and Brown students, can feel heard, supported, cared for, and protected. I hope that you are also able to find your own home here as well.”

 

Alison Byerly, president of Carleton College, former president of Lafayette College (2013-2021)

Alison Byerly wears academic regalia and speaks into microphone at podium

“This has been a time of tremendous challenge for all higher education institutions. The events of the last 20 months have tested our systems, our structures, our assumptions, and our communities. To begin a college presidency at such a time is an act of faith. It represents a commitment to the idea that colleges, universities, and the students we educate have an important role to play in solving the many problems facing our country and our world. 

“I am confident that Lafayette College will live up to that expectation. Lafayette has a long tradition of preparing students to be leaders, problem solvers, activists, and dreamers. All of these will be needed in the years to come. As a fellow college president, I am pleased to welcome Nicole Hurd to our ranks, and I look forward to working with her and with Lafayette to make good on the promise that colleges like ours offer the nation.” 

 

Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82, president, Alumni Association Board

Tracy Hagert Sutka speaks into a microphone at a podium dressed in academic attire

“President Hurd, in the short time you have been on campus you have inspired the alumni with your entrepreneurial energy to make college more accessible and your experience in promoting undergraduate excellence. 

“We accept your challenge to be bold and brave with you as you lead the College into our bicentennial in 2026. Your experience aligns with our mission, while your vision pays homage to our College history and traditions. I speak for all 29,000 alumni when I say congratulations on becoming Lafayette College’s 18th president.”

 

Sherryta Freeman, director of athletics

Sherryta Freeman, director of athletics

“We know your vision will drive us forward and make us stronger, while staying true to our core educational mission. We look forward to being bold and brave with you.

“You will push us to be the best that we can, and in turn, we will be motivated to push beyond our imagination, because there is care and gratitude for the community and how we all contribute to it. President Hurd, you have already redefined what community means to the Lafayette family. We pledge to honor that partnership.”

 

Robert Sell ’84, chair of the Board of Trustees and presidential search committee

Bob Sell in academic attire speaks into microphone at podium

“We have the opportunity to embrace the moment and move the institution forward. We have a leader who expresses a desire to join us in that journey and lead the charge. I leave it to all of you to decide. I’m committed. She’s committed. I think many of you are committed.”

Barbara Levy ’77, co-chair of the inauguration committee

“Today not only represents a celebratory milestone in Lafayette’s history, but a very special moment for Lafayette. President Hurd has shown exceptional leadership and dedication to improving access and excellence in higher education throughout her distinguished career.” 

Wynne Whitman ’86, co-chair of the inauguration committee

“Now, we are fortunate to have her lead Lafayette at a time when the College is on the precipice of opportunity. An upcoming 200th anniversary, the start of a new campaign, and President Hurd’s leadership will catapult Lafayette to a bold future.”

Kamaka Martin ’04

“It is really a momentous occasion to be a part of this wonderful day, to really welcome President Hurd as she shepherds the College into this new phase. It’s very exciting, and just a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with the College, reconnect with fellow alums, and to see all of the growth and the changes on campus.”

Bri Braswell ’16

“To hear President Hurd speak about love, community, and accountability, and also speaking about equality, they’ve chosen such a beautiful person to lead Lafayette into the future. You can see it in the amazing cohort of students that we’re bringing here. The first-year class, there are some amazing scholars I’ve just gotten to connect with. And as somebody who has been an alum to now go through so many iterations, I think we’re just at such a sweet spot of where we’re going to be moving forward. I’m glad that she’s the leader at the helm of that, and that she stands for what she says. I’m so excited for what’s to come.”

Michael Weisburger ’82 

“This is such a time of incredible promise and incredible opportunity. President Hurd is the right person at the right time. She’s full of positive energy, and that’s what I’m all about.”

Alex Karapetian ’04

It’s a fantastic occasion and one that I wouldn’t miss. Lafayette is such a big part of my life and my family’s life, and it’s like coming back home. It’s wonderful to be part of the festivities and celebrations, and to look toward the future of the College.”

 

Categorized in: Alumni, Inauguration, Presidential News

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