Tusculum College, the state’s oldest institution of higher education marked a milestone in its 217-year history on Friday, Oct. 8, with the inauguration of its 27th and first female president, Dr. Nancy B. Moody.
Dr. Moody officially took the oath of office in a ceremony Friday afternoon that featured a variety of the different constituents of the college, including current students, faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, alumni and friends of the college.
“I stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, as do you,” said Moody. “Collectively, we must continue to build on all that has come before, as well as strike new ground and lead this community to continued success. We must as pioneers - prepare the way.”
She continued, “Tusculum College must continue to build degree programs; pursue new academic programs founded upon local, regional and national data and sound financial analysis; grow the endowment and use the earnings to help support operations of the college; continue to develop financial stability, particularly during the current economic times, which is the foundation for the future and allow the mission and strategic plan to guide us.”
Dr. Kenneth A. Bowman, chair of the Board of Trustees and a 1970 alumnus of the college, administered the oath of office and presented the presidential medallion, the symbol of the presidential office. The medallion was presented to Dr. Moody before an audience of approximately 600 attending the ceremony in the Pioneer Arena, inside the Niswonger Commons on campus.
Drawing on the theme for the ceremony, “A Tapestry of Pioneer Leadership,” which Dr. Moody noted “one of the most pervasive works of art throughout historical Europe and elsewhere, and were designed to tell a story.”
She added, “The beauty and intrigue of a tapestry is that it doesn’t reveal itself until all the threads are in place. It is not until each thread comes together, intertwines, overlaps and blends its own uniqueness into a new whole that the complete work of art becomes known.”
In her inaugural address, she likened all those who have come before, founders, benefactors, alumni, students and others who have influenced and impacted the college to threads of the tapestry.
“The tapestry of Tusculum College is one that reflects many pioneer leaders - those who ventured into the unknown, those who have innovated, those who have preceded all others, and those who have established themselves in previously barren environments or areas. I am proud to be part of the colorful, diverse and complex tapestry of Tusculum College that is evolving. We can only consider the dynamic future of this college through reflection of the various threads, how they are woven or blended together to form the whole through the influence of the past, the present, and even the future.”
The history of the day was addressed in opening comments by Dr. Scott Niswonger, one of the college’s benefactors, a trustee of the college, and a 1987 alumnus who was also presented an honorary degree in 2006.
“Tusculum College, in its true pioneer spirit, has had a great deal of firsts, including its status as the first institution in Tennessee to have an African-American graduate and as the oldest co-educational institution associated with the Presbyterian Church,” Niswonger said. “Tusculum has a diverse and rich history. That tradition continues today as an institution that is progressive and willing to break new ground to achieve its mission. Today, the tradition of innovation continues.”
Representatives of various constituencies of the college brought greetings to the president. Dr. Bowman spoke on behalf of the trustees, “Dr. Moody, it is with my full confidence in the Board of Trustees’ decision made more than a year ago, that I wish to once again extend our full support and influence toward supporting your vision for the future of Tusculum College.”
Dr. Robert Pollock, president of the college’s Alumni Association, spoke of the firm foundation his education from Tusculum provided in his life as he offered his congratulations to Dr. Moody and pledged the support of the alumni organization to her leadership.
Providing comments on behalf of the college’s faculty was Dr. Michelle S. Freeman, associate professor of business administration and faculty moderator who thanked Dr. Moody “for being a pioneer for our college and for all women as well.”
Michelle Arbogast, assistant bookstore manager and a 2009 graduate, represented her fellow staff members in her comments that asked Dr. Moody to look on her position as an “opportunity to serve, learn, influence, network, encourage and teach.”
Students were represented by Erika Witt, president of the Student Government Association. Witt told Dr. Moody that the students “look to your leadership with excitement and confidence.”
The college’s strong relationship with the church was reconfirmed by the Rev. Dr. Dan Donaldson, pastor of Tusculum’s mother church, First Presbyterian Church of Greeneville and a trustee.
Dr. Tom Garland, a trustee and former interim president of the college, brought a welcome from the community, encouraging Dr. Moody to continue her efforts to strengthen ties between the college and the region.
The ceremony featured an Inaugural Festival Choir of alumni, faculty and staff and community members accompanied by the college’s new concert band and organist Jim Winfree.
The formal processional, led by bagpiper Jon Shell, featured alumni representatives from nearly all graduating classes, beginning in the 1940s, as well as current students representing various campus organizations, delegates from more than 25 colleges and universities, a former Tusculum president, the college’s Board of Trustees and faculty members.
Dr. Moody was appointed president in February 2009 by the Board of Trustees and assumed her duties in April 2009. As president, Dr. Moody has helped lead the college through the reaffirmation of accreditation process with the Southern Association of colleges and schools and guided the college towards greater financial stability in a time of economic uncertainty. During her administration, a new minor program in theatre arts has been established and a new band program has successfully started in the residential college program. In the Graduate and Professional Studies program for working adults, a new Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree have been created.