Adam Weinberg became Denison’s 20th president on July 1, 2013, but on October 11, it all became official when Denison Board of Trustees Chair Tom Hoaglin ’71 presented Weinberg with the presidential medal and gave him his official charge to lead the university. “From a position of great strength, we sought a president who would rightly fit in a long line of outstanding presidents; a strategic thinker and discerning listener who could creatively, collaboratively and courageously address our opportunities, as well as our challenges; an intellectual role model who possesses a demonstrated record of visionary leadership; and a thoughtful, fair, and compassionate scholar with a passion for the liberal arts, strong business acumen, and global perspective,” said Hoaglin. “And given the pressures and demands of a college presidency these days, we thought that a sense of humor would help, too.”
The Friday afternoon ceremony began on the Reese~Shackelford Common when cheering students formed a “tunnel” through which faculty, trustees, former presidents — including Dale Knobel, Michele Myers, and Andrew De Rocco — passed, along with dignitaries representing colleges and universities from across the country. Weinberg then received advice and a warm welcome from a speaker representing every corner of the college — the faculty, the alumni, the emeriti, the staff, and the students.
Ana Morales ’14, DCGA president, offered Weinberg his own words of advice — those he used to welcome the Class of 2017 at its Induction Ceremony just a few months ago. “Ask questions, be creative, take risks, show courage, respect others, follow your heart, manage your time, take care of yourself, maintain your integrity, and, please, enjoy this,” Morales told him.
Sandra Cook, president of the Denison Operating Working Staff organization, gave Weinberg some practical advice when she referenced the annual DOWS auction, “It’s important for you to understand that during the auction, no matter how much you bid, you’ll never be able to buy Betty Harris’ chocolate chip cookies, because Seth Patton will outbid you, even if you try to pull rank.” Casey Chroust ’97, president of the Society of the Alumni, pledged the support of the alumni and warned Weinberg to practice “deer vigilance” while on campus.
David Bayley ’55, a Denison life trustee and distinguished professor emeritus in the School of Criminal Justice of the University at Albany-SUNY, gave the Induction Address, and not only did he touch on his hopes and dreams for Weinberg, but he addressed faculty and students, as well. “This is the ambition that Denison has for all of you: to be a transformative voice, to be competent, to think outside the box, to speak and write persuasively, and to get others to follow your cause.” To Adam he said, “As you become the 20th president of Denison, my hope for you is that you will become ambitious for Denison in this transformative way, as Denison has been for all of its students for generations.”
When Weinberg took the microphone to give his Inaugural Address, he laid out a vision for Denison’s future that included a focus on raising the college’s visibility, deepening student learning, and ensuring professional and personal success for its students. Then he had this to say: “I relish our journey together. Though it’s early in the academic year, I’ve fallen in love with this place. It’s wonderful. Something magical happens on this hill every day, and I’m deeply proud and honored to be a part of it.”
When the formal ceremony ended with a standing ovation for Weinberg, it was time to have a little fun. Students and faculty wrapped the evening at the Inaugural Ball, during which the Denison community danced the night away and posed on the “red carpet” for photos with the Denison buzzard.
It was quite a day, really, and it held the promise of an extraordinary future for Denison.