Inauguration is April 28
The inauguration of Dr. John Lawrence “Larry” Stimpert as the 25th president of Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) is set to take place Friday, April 28, at 2 p.m. on the Venable Lawn at the college.
As the event approaches, Stimpert noted that his perspective on it has shifted.
“Personally, I’m not a big pomp and circumstance kind of guy,” he said. “But somebody explained to me after I got here, our events person, she said, ‘The inauguration is a really important event for the college because it’s the way you unite the college’s past with its future.’ And all of a sudden, it took on a whole new meaning for me that this isn’t about me, it’s about the college.”
Stimpert said that contributing to this important moment in the college’s history will be keynote speaker Fergus Bordewich, who has written a variety of books, the most recent of which is called, “The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government.”
Bordewich has written about the Civil War, as well, Stimpert added.
“He’s done a lot of research right here in our county,” Stimpert said. “He’s very familiar with this part of Virginia, so it seems like he’s a perfect person to speak about this issue of uniting the college that’s almost 250 years old, it’s past with the future. So, we’re excited about that, and we’re hoping to have some guests come, and then of course, it will be a celebration for our faculty, staff and students, as well.”
Stimpert officially took the office of president at Hampden-Sydney on July 1, 2016 after the college made the announcement of his hiring the first week of March.
He said the timing of the inauguration has been a topic discussed extensively.
“Some presidents will work a whole year before there’s an inauguration, and we just thought, no, before we have commencement, let’s go ahead and get the job done,” he said.
While some inaugurations serve as the initiation of a new administration, like the one that occurred in Washington D.C. earlier this year, Stimpert said it has been beneficial, in his case, to have been able to establish himself at the college prior to the event.
“I know the school now,” he said. “The school has started to know me. I still have a lot more to learn, obviously, but in some ways, it’s nicer in a way to have had some time here. I will give some remarks that day … I can certainly be more informed in speaking to the community than if I were just starting.”
And he noted that during his nearly nine months on the job, he has been able to cement in his mind exactly the kind of legacy he would like to have, using as a model Jonathan Peter Cushing, H-SC’s president from 1821 to 1835.
“He really established a faculty here,” Stimpert said. “He established a real solid academic program. We started having good enrollment of students. And when I came into the office, his portrait is hanging above the fireplace in the reception room outside my office. And I said to my assistant, ‘I’m glad that painting is there’ … That’s kind of a daily reminder of what we hope to accomplish here.”