Haverford College has a lot to celebrate this coming weekend. Amidst the clear autumn weather, the falling leaves and the high spirits of Family & Friends Weekend, the College will inaugurate Daniel H. Weiss as the 14th president of Haverford College.
Inauguration weekend begins Saturday morning with a community-wide Meeting for Worship at the Haverford Friends Meeting House on Buck Lance at 9:30.
The schedule for the weekend’s festivities includes a host of ceremonies, art exhibitions, research panels and concerts held to honor Haverford’s traditions and to commemorate the start of a new era under Weiss’ presidency.
“It’s kind of like a giant wedding,” said the President’s Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Board of Managers Jesse Lytle. “We’re bringing this new person to the community and we’re showing what the person and the community is all about and then we celebrate how good the fit is.”
A giant wedding, indeed. An estimated 800 to 1000 students, faculty, alumni, members of the Board and delegates from other colleges and universities are expected to attend the ceremony Saturday morning in Marshall Auditorium that officially “marks the beginning of the presidency of Dan Weiss,” according to the online schedule.
The ceremony will begin after faculty lead a processional from Founders to Roberts Hall. Board Managers, members of the community and Weiss’ own close friends and colleagues will speak briefly.
The most symbolically significant part of the ceremony will be when the Board of Managers Chairman, Howard Lutnick ’83, hands off the Isaac Sharpless Scroll to Weiss. The scroll features a quote from the 1888 Commencement speech of President Isaac Sharpless, when he called upon students to exercise “the moral freedom of your conscience and the intellectual freedom of your judgments.”
“There a lot of places that hand off tridents and scepters and funny things,” said Lytle. “This community decided that words were really what Haverford was about…and the quote is the one physical manifestation of the office that has become a tradition.”
Previous inaugurations have been centered around a theme. The 2007 inauguration of Stephen Emerson ’74 had a New Orleans theme as a tribute to Hurricane Katrina. Weiss’ theme will be a little closer to home.
“It was his [Weiss’] strong view that [the inauguration is] about the Haverford community, not about him,” said Lytle. “So the theme really is just about Haverford being Haverford. And all the panels and things happening over the weekend are just meant to show the best of the college.”
The ceremony at Marshall will be followed by (a luncheon) and multiple research panels led by Haverford professors. One of those panels, “Art and Culture in the Middle Ages,” is focused on a campus-wide art exhibit that features Monumental Brass Rubbings from 13th -17th century Europe and is being held in honor of Weiss, who is a lifelong scholar of medieval European art.
Concerts and sporting events will also take place this weekend. Women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey along with Men’s soccer will play centennial rival Swarthmore College throughout the day on Saturday. A Choral Ensemble Concert on Saturday night includes performances from the Humtones, S’Chords, Oxford Blues, Outskirts, Mainliners, Counterpoint, the Chamber Singers, along with the Chorale and Chorale Orchestra.
The celebrations will continue Sunday with an interdisciplinary research panel, “The Laboratory in Many Guises” in the morning and conclude with a final Ensemble Concert in the afternoon, featuring chamber and orchestral music played by musicians from Haverford and neighboring Philadelphia.
The inauguration’s planning committee has worked for eight months to coordinate efforts between Facilities Management, the Dining Center, and Communications to organize catering, advertising, and the physical campus itself.
“It takes a village, and we wouldn’t do it if there weren’t meaning to it,” said Lytle, head of the planning committee. “It’s really about creating a moment for the community to rally together and remind them why they love Haverford, and to start off Dan’s presidency on the right foot. All in one, that’s sort of the goal, to symbolically mark that moment.”
Photos are courtesy of Haverford College Archives: Special Collections.