Presidential Inauguration

Greetings from the Faculty

Credit: Carlos Barron

Robert M. Bednar ’89

Professor of Communication Studies;
Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee

I am proud to be here today on behalf of the faculty to officially welcome Dr. Laura Skandera Trombley as the first female president of Southwestern.

My life has been entangled with Southwestern for over 35 years, first as a student, then an adjunct instructor, and now a professor. In that time, I have worked for 4 presidents. But of them all, Laura, you are the first president I feel I work with instead of for.

Universities are unruly places, where the challenge is to somehow get a bunch of people loosely tied together with different interests and trajectories and professional trainings and intersectional identities working together toward common goals. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of either leading from above or getting mired in the weeds.

Instead, Laura, you are deeply committed to inclusive and collaborative but decisive leadership. You honor the messy work of shared governance, and because of your commitment to inclusion and equity, you are always looking around the table to see who is there and who is missing, and then actively bringing new people to the table. You are experienced and brave enough to make hard decisions, but smart enough to not make those decisions alone.

Because I served on the Presidential Search Committee and Co-Chaired the Tactical Planning Task Force with you, I have had the opportunity to witness this all from very close range, even if socially distanced. I got to see you move from being a virtual person called “Applicant 96” to being a real person before the lockdown, and then again a virtual person on Zoom, and now again a real person, here before us all today, showing that you are a leader we can believe in.

I know that many of the faculty are starting to feel as I do as they get to know you the way I do. Although none of us wished to have to wait this long to make this inauguration official, it has given everyone the opportunity to work with you now for more than a year, and to know that you are, indeed, the real deal.

That means we are here to celebrate not only what we hope from a new president, but what we know to be true. Congratulations on your inauguration. We look forward to a long and productive collaboration.