Friday, April 21 was a mile marker in the history of Converse College as we celebrated the investiture of our tenth president, Krista L. Newkirk, JD. Festivities ran from mid-morning until late in the evening and included a formal inauguration ceremony, the launch of a new tradition with the Converse Mace, a celebratory lunch on the lawn, and a donor gala and inaugural ball uniting alumnae, students, faculty, staff, donors, esteemed guests, and Newkirk friends and family as they ushered in a new era together.
Enjoy these highlights of the inauguration ceremony and see part 2 featuring the evening’s festivities, along with photo galleries and video.
The inauguration ceremony in Twichell Auditorium opened with a processional including the four living past presidents of Converse College, and delegates from 54 colleges and universities across the country. The procession was led by the Grand Marshal, Dr. Melissa Walker, who carried the Converse Mace. A new tradition unveiled for the inauguration, the Converse Mace will be borne each year by a faculty member nominated by his/her peers and selected by the president. The mace was designed and crafted by Converse professor Greg Mueller, and incorporates purple heart wood from the original Wilson Hall construction.
The ceremony incorporated music by Converse professors Dr. Scott Robbins and Dr. David Berry. Robbins was commissioned to write Like the Music of the Sun in honor of the inauguration. Berry’s International Lightning Trust Prelude was featured during the academic processional, and this was the second presidential inauguration to feature this piece for the processional.
Formal greetings and well-wishes were presented from regional, state, and local leaders who included Dr. Philip L. Dubois, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Trey Gowdy, US representative for SC’s fourth congressional district, Laura Stille, mayor pro tem of the City of Spartanburg, SC; and Jean Toal, chief justice (ret.) of the Supreme Court of the State of South Carolina.
The remarks of the Honorable Jean Toal grant a taste of the respect and joy with which President Newkirk was welcomed into her new role.
“What better way to celebrate the Converse College legacy of developing women who lead and effect positive change in their professions and their communities and their families than to install this first-rank achiever who embraces her status as a role model by rolling up her sleeves every day to labor in the trenches?”
“Loyal daughter, intrepid ranch hand, top tier student, worked her way through college in 3 short years, storied student of the law who earned a high-honors juris doctor at one of the oldest institutions in America…Krista Newkirk’s reaction to her family’s financial adversity at a young age was to enter into the legal profession to protect her family. She’s done a lot more with her JD degree than that.
“Stalwart wife, partner, devoted mom, nationally acclaimed lawyer, groundbreaking college administrator…in her short 44 years Krista Newkirk has already lived many lives of service to her family, to her clients, to her community — and in the process, discovered her life’s calling as a higher education leader here at Converse College. What better way to celebrate the Converse College legacy of developing women who lead and effect positive change in their professions and their communities and their families than to install this first-rank achiever who embraces her status as a role model by rolling up her sleeves every day to labor in the trenches?”
Watch the video of Justice Toal’s remarks in their entirety as well as greetings from representatives of every aspect of Converse and civic life in the videos below.
- From the Board of Trustees – Kimberly Varnadoe Kent, Chair, Converse Board of Trustees
- From the Higher Ed Community – Dr. Philip Dubois, Chancellor, UNC-Charlotte
- From the Legal Community – Jean Toal, chief justice (ret.) of the SC Supreme Court
- From South Carolina – Trey Gowdy, US representative for SC’s fourth congressional district
- From Spartanburg – Laura Stille, mayor pro tem of the city of Spartanburg, SC
- From Faculty – Dr Kyle Keefer, President, Faculty Senate
- From Staff – Leslie West, Chair, Staff Council
- From Alumnae – Caroline Watts Morris ’64, President, Alumnae Association
- From Students – Ariel Wingard ’17, President, Student Government Association 2016-17
Watch the video of the investiture of Krista L. Newkirk as tenth president of Converse College.
The Inaugural Address
“Today is about Converse College, the long and important journey in the lives of young women, and our future in continuing to serve as an educational experience that transforms young people and serves to better our community,” Newkirk stated in her inaugural address. “It is with humility, joy, and hope that I accept the leadership of this great college. I appreciate the trust of the Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, the alumnae and students, and the community.”
Newkirk also spoke to the college’s duty to the community beyond its gates, asserting, “Converse was founded by, and has been sustained by, community support over many years, and we will meet our obligation to this region by broadening our connections with local businesses and industry to develop the workforce they need, and by helping them retain talent in the Upstate to contribute to the region’s economic development.”
For many at the event, a high point of the address was Newkirk’s extensive and heartfelt thanks to the people who had helped contribute to the woman she is and her journey to this moment. Among them, her husband, Lew Glenn, who “started as a good friend and confidante and grew to be the love of my life,” her sons Conrad and Holden: “The greatest honor of my life is to be your mother and my greatest hope is that I can instill in you a deep sense of being loved, worthy, and capable,” and her high school music teacher, Starla Taylor, who “like all truly great teachers, inspired, encouraged and challenged me, while helping me to put my teenage troubles into perspective.”
Watch the video of President Newkirk’s full inaugural address:
The Celebration Continues…
See Part 2 highlighting the festivities surrounding the ceremony and into the evening!
Check out #PresNewkirk on social media to experience Inauguration Day through the posts of the participants.