By Nicole DeJacimo and Phoebe Doscher
Robert W. Iuliano was installed as Gettysburg College’s 15th president on the Beachem Portico in front of Penn Hall this Saturday. Students, alumni, family, and Gettysburg community members filled the white fold-out chairs in the hot sun during the ceremony and fanned themselves with their programs while others rested in the shade on the library steps.
For those who could not bear the eighty-degree heat, the Installation Ceremony was live-streamed and shown in the College Union Building (CUB).
The Sunderman Conservatory Wind Symphony played during the processional of faculty, board members, student representatives, administrators, official delegates from colleges and universities, and past presidents Janet Morgan Riggs and Charles Glassick. Despite the high temperatures, robed members still walked bearing grins. Behind them stood a screen that played a slide show of photos of campus and student life. Once the installation began, projections of the speakers at the podium on Penn Hall filled the screen.
Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Jonathan Allen reached out to every Senate recognized student organization to request a representative from each group to attend the ceremony. Joining them were representatives from learned societies and educational organizations, as well as student representatives from each academic department and sports team.
“It was actually pretty cool to be a part of and represent Students Against Sexual Assault, which means a lot to me,” Sydney Kaplan ‘22 said, “especially because sometimes clubs don’t get enough recognition on campus.”
Kaplan also mentioned that she was unsure about what to expect from Iuliano and was ultimately “glad that [she] got to hear him speak.”
Class presidents also walked in the processional, bearing their class flags. Patrick McKenna ’20 carried the college flag and spoke on behalf of the student body during the ceremony.
“Being a part of the ceremony was a wonderful experience,” President of the Class of 2023 Thomas Cassara ’23 said.
“President Iuliano’s ability to listen, which was referenced as his defining trait by several of the speakers, is only matched by his ability to speak,” he continued, “I, for one, am glad that he is our new president, and I look forward to the next four years.”
After an opening by History Professor and College Marshal Michael J. Birkner and brief prayer led by Chaplain Dr. Kristin Largen, Chair of the Board of Trustees David R. Brennan introduced eight representatives from various parts of Gettysburg to speak on behalf of their group or profession. The representatives offered a “warm welcome” and expressed their excitement to have him serve at Gettysburg’s new president.
Dr. Robert Natter conducted the College Choir in singing “Proclaim the Day” by Vijay Singh, a fitting song for the rare and joyous occasion. Provost Christopher Zappe then introduced the guest speaker, Drew Gilpin Faust, President Emerita of Harvard University, an expert on Civil War history.
“Bob is here today taking on these new responsibilities because he believes so strongly in the value and the values of liberal arts education,” Faust said.
Soon enough, President Iuliano received his medallion chain and had the chance to speak about his aspirations for new opportunities and experiences here at Gettysburg.
“This is no ordinary place and this is no ordinary time,” he said. “When this college and institutions like it graduate broadly educated students with the skills and determination to get involved, we have every reason to believe that our country’s fragile democratic experiment may long endure.”
The crowd erupted in applause and gave Iuliano a standing ovation after his Inaugural Address. The ceremony was rounded out by closing announcements and Gettysburg’s Alma Mater, accompanied by both the Wind Symphony and the College Choir.
The ceremony and events that followed gave alumni, trustees, faculty, and students the opportunity to make connections and celebrate the 15th installation of a president in the 187 years of Gettysburg College history.
“It was nice to see the campus community come together,” said Grace Gallagher ‘22. “I’m excited to see how President Iuliano connects to the student body.”
Celebrations continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening with a reception on Stine Lake and a campus celebration in the College Union Building Ballroom and Junction, complete with student performances, refreshments, and more remarks from President Iuliano.
The president and his family mingled among Gettysburg alumni, faculty, students, and staff on Stine Lake shortly following the ceremony. Everything, from the tables to the cookies, was decked out in festive Gettysburg orange and blue while the party took time to relax after the almost two-hour installation.
Later in the evening, members of the campus community gathered for the Campus Celebration, held in the CUB Ballroom.
Elaine Negron ‘20 introduced President Iuliano and noted instances, including GIV Day during orientation for the Class of 2023, in which she met him personally throughout the first month of school.
“I learned that Bob is a great listener,” she said, echoing a theme of the day.
She also presented Iuliano with some student-to-president advice: “Continue to reach out to students… Help this community reach its fullest potential.”
Iuliano then expressed his gratitude to the campus, as well as to those close to him, for celebrating this “extraordinary day in Gettysburg’s history.” He pointed out his college roommate in the back of the room, holding his young grandson, to emphasize the abundance of love and support he felt throughout the day.
He acknowledged the collective efforts of those who spoke on panels, put together showcases, and student performers including Jazz Dispatch which had provided a soundtrack to the Ballroom event before his remarks. Iuliano expressed his enthusiasm for seeing the community “come together as it did and as it always does.”
“Thank you for celebrating Gettysburg,” he concluded. “It’s a remarkable place.”
Before the night drew to a close, Iuliano, accompanied by his wife, made his way into the Junction to watch student performances. The a cappella groups Upscale and Four Scores sang and Ziv Carmi ‘23 did stand-up comedy.
Students performers were met by Iuliano as they filed off the stage, who stood up from his front-row seat and shook hands with each of them.
Celebrations of the newest installment of a Gettysburg College president dominated this late-September weekend. President Iuliano emphasized his gratitude for being welcomed to Gettysburg and to all of those who recognized the latest milestone of the campus community.