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At Inauguration, President Bair to Focus Remarks on Making the Liberal Arts Accessible and Affordable
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Sheila C. Bair will focus her inaugural remarks on how to make the four-year liberal arts experience affordable for more American families when she is installed as the 28th president of Washington College on Saturday morning, September 26. The ceremony begins at 10:30 on the campus lawn and will include greetings from best-selling historian Joseph J. Ellis and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski.
Bair, whose career in public service was highlighted by a five-year tenure as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission during the worst years of the subprime mortgage crisis and ensuing Great Recession, started her new job as Washington College president on August 1. While at the FDIC she earned a reputation for fiercely defending the interests of taxpayers, bank customers and homeowners. Afterward, she continued to share her policy expertise and advocate for financial reform while serving as a senior consultant to the Pew Charitable Trusts. As a new voice in academic leadership, she will focus much of her first year examining issues of affordability and student debt. Of particular interest will be making a Washington College education accessible to high-ability, high-need students.
Inaugural guest Barbara Mikulski is the longest-serving woman in the Senate and is known for welcoming and mentoring new female colleagues. The first woman to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Mikulski began her political career on the Baltimore City Council and served in the House of Representatives for a decade (1976-1986) before being elected to the Senate. “It’s an honor to have Senator Mikulski share this special day with us,” said Bair. “She has been a powerful and effective voice for Maryland and an inspiration to countless other women in top leadership roles.”
Historian Joseph Ellis is a leading scholar of American history and author of nine books, including the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner Founding Brothers, the 1997 National Book Award winner American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, and the 2005 bestseller His Excellency: George Washington. His latest history, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 was published by Random House in May.
“We are pleased to host one of the foremost historians of the Founding Fathers—or Brothers, as he has written—to help mark another chapter of history at the first college chartered in the new nation they created,” Bair said in announcing Ellis’s participation. “It’s especially meaningful to have a scholar who has written extensively about George Washington, a figure who gave his name and 50 guineas to get this College off to an auspicious start in 1782.”
A series of Bair Inaugural festivities begins in Decker Theatre on Thursday, September 24, at 5:00 p.m. when former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson joins Bair for a symposium on global economic and environmental issues, including climate change and the Chinese economy. Titled “Our World, Their Future: How the Environment and the Global Economy will Affect the Next Generation,” their conversation will be moderated by CNBC Chief White House Correspondent John Harwood, with an introduction by Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large for The Atlantic.
The following evening, Friday, September 25, the winner of the 2015 George Washington Book Prize will be feted. Author Nick Bunker will talk about his winning book, An Empire on Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America with C.V. Starr Center director Adam Goodheart. That event begins with a book signing in the Underwood Lobby of the Gibson Center for the Arts at 4:15 p.m.; the talk is slated to begin at 5:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre.
Rounding out the weekend’s festivities, RiverFest will follow the formality of Saturday morning’s Inauguration ceremony with laid-back fun on the Chester River. Produced jointly by the Center for Environment & Society and Chestertown’s RiverArts, the waterfront festival will include food, exhibitions, paddle races and the ever-popular cardboard-boat race. The event starts at noon, and the cardboard boat race gets underway at 3:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m., everyone is invited to parade to the foot of High Street to prepare for a dramatic finale: the illumination of a floating sculpture designed by woodworking artisan Vicco von Voss, a 1991 graduate of Washington College, and funded through College’s SANDBOX initiative. (Find the full RiverFest schedule at chestertownriverarts.org.)
All inauguration events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.washcoll.edu/inauguration.