A First in Beacon’s History
The inauguration of Dr. George J. Hagerty took place at 2pm on Friday, February 21, 2014 on the grounds of Beacon Hall, the flagstone building of the campus. The processional down Main Street in Leesburg included all employees of the College, the Board of Trustees, and members of the College Student Government Association, accompanied by the sounds of a bagpiper. This was the first formal inauguration ceremony of Beacon College’s history. Fittingly, it coincided with the beginning of the yearlong celebration of the 25th anniversary of the College.
The crowd gathered for the ceremony included the extended College community- current students, parents, alumni, and other supporters of the College- as well as members of the public and the media.
Despite the overcast weather, the ceremony was beautiful, and the impending rain held off until the reception was well underway.
Highlights of the Ceremony
During the course of the ceremony, Beacon’s longest standing faculty member, Dr. Terri Ross, was
presented with the College mace, and the longest serving employee, Mrs. Kimberly Baggett, was presented with the chain of office. College speakers included Dr. Ross, current student leader Brett Daly, and alumnus Jeremy Levin. Eileen Marinakis, parent of an early Beacon graduate and chair of the Board of Trustees, formally installed Dr. Hagerty, bestowing him with the chain of office.
The Leesburg High School Concert Chorus provided musical interludes, and speakers included Congressman Daniel Webster, Leesburg Mayor John Christian, and Thomas Horgan, President of the New Hampshire College and University Council, who provided the introduction of Dr. Hagerty.
I Wish You Had Been Here a Few Decades Ago
Keynote speaker Dr. Yvonne Pennington gave a heartfelt speech based primarily on her personal experiences helping her son Ty, now a successful television personality, cope with his ADHD. Dr. Pennington’s speech showed her passion for advocating for people with learning disabilities. In a time when ADHD was not well recognized or understood and certainly not accommodated in most educational settings, Dr. Pennington had to create a method for helping Ty adjust his behavior when necessary.
Dr. Pennington has since worked in her practice with many other adults and children with learning disabilities and ADHD, and she has also served on the Board of Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia and been responsible for numerous publications and presentations on the topic. In her speech, Pennington recognized Beacon’s commitment to serving the needs of students with learning disabilities and ADHD and noted that she wished the College had been an option for Ty, noting “the preparation given at this wonderful Beacon College prepares these students to be ready for whatever opportunity when it comes around to them.”
Appreciating our Past, Envisioning our Future
Dr. Hagerty’s inaugural address focused on the unique mission of Beacon College, with an emphasis on appreciating the history of the College and those who helped ensure its success, while also recognizing the vision for the future. While the College may be growing and changing, Dr. Hagerty noted in his speech, “We have prevailed and grown as a liberal arts institution because our focus and purpose has remained unaltered and at the core of all that we do.”
In particular, President-emeritus Deborah Brodbeck, Former President Marsha Glines, Board Chair Eileen Marinakis, Trustee Dr. Vincent Ziccolella, and former Board Chairs Sam Battaglia and Richard Williams were asked to stand and be recognized for their commitment to the College and their roles in founding and developing the institution, helping shape it into its current state.
Dr. Hagerty provided details to the future vision of the College, including campus plans and ideal student enrollment, growth that would honor the founding goals of the institution while best serving the needs of the current and future student population. “The Beacon College that has been envisioned and that will prosper over the next decade is worthy of its legacy, its extraordinary promise, and our singular mission.”
In conclusion, Dr. Hagerty revealed the book that has been most memorable to him in influencing his life- Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginning. Quoting Welty, “You see, I have lived a sheltered life, but a sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring comes from within,” Hagerty connects the passage with the role of Beacon College in working with students with learning disabilities and ADHD and with the goal for the students themselves. “We are called to guide and empower our students to live daring lives… From where I stand, the living of a daring life by our students is our most enduring gift. It is, in truth, both our College’s legacy and our future. So, to all gathered here, and especially our students, I wish you all daring lives.”
Celebration of the College’s 25th Anniversary
A formal reception was held after the ceremony. A gala was held at Mission Inn on Friday evening as special thanks for those who have contributed significantly to the success of the College. In the days leading up to the inauguration, events, which were all open to the public, were held on campus and included the opening of the Kristin Michelle Mason Art Gallery with an inaugural faculty exhibit as well as an academic discussion panel on the topic “Replacing Superstition with Science.”
As the inauguration coincided with the 25th anniversary of the College, this event acted as the kickoff to the year-long celebration. The ceremony was an important milestone for the College as it was a first in our history.