October 20, 2017

Susquehanna University marked its 160thacademic year with the inauguration of its 15thpresident, Jonathan D. Green.

More than 1,000 gathered in Weber Chapel Auditorium on Oct. 20 for the installation ceremony and Green’s inaugural address, The New American Scholar.

Green’s address examined the evolution and significance of liberal arts education in producing citizen leaders. He reiterated his four pillars for Susquehanna’s future-engagement, citizen leadership, global citizenship and access-and addressed the challenges liberal arts institutions face today, and their mission moving forward.

“Citizen leadership has always been at the core of liberal education, but rarely in our nation’s history has anti-intellectualism been so prominent,” Green said. “And never in our history has the critical relationship between liberal education (meaning a broad-based education rooted in free inquiry and critical reflection) and the preservation of an enlightened democratic republic been so poorly understood.”

Green harkened back to America’s founding fathers, noting they were keenly aware of the relationship between liberty and knowledge.

“They knew that their inspired experiment to create a democratic republic would require broadly educated citizen leaders to foster and develop this revolutionary form of modern government,” he said.

Yet despite the central role education has played in the development of the United States, Green condemned what he described as the country’s current “anti-intellectual climate.”

“We must do better. The domains in which we will apply citizen leadership are sustainability, social justice and diversity. We are here to learn how to have difficult conversations,” Green said. “We must rise above the noise that distracts our public discourse from the fundamental aims of responsible action, compassion and human decency.”

Finally, Green offered his own description of the “new American scholar”:

“The New American Scholar represents the spectrum of human diversity. The New American Scholar is more likely to be a woman than a man. The New American Scholar is truly a citizen of the world: as young people come to our colleges and universities from around the globe to become, and to help all our students to become, cosmopolitan citizen leaders,” he said. “This is Susquehanna. We are the New American Scholar.”

Messages of welcome were delivered during the ceremony to Green and his wife, Lynn Buck, by The Rev. Scott M. Kershner, chaplain to the university; Signe S. Gates ’71, chair of the Board of Trustees; and Linda A. McMillin, provost of the university.

Seniors Eyana M. Walker, president of the Black Student Union, and Jeremy R. Witter, student representative to the Presidential Search Committee, welcomed President Green and Lynn into the “orange and maroon family” on behalf of the student body.

“As our conductor,” Walker said in a nod to Green’s musical background, “we will follow you as long as you lead with conviction.”

Additional remarks were delivered by

  • David S. Steinau, associate professor and chair of the Department of Music, on behalf of the faculty;
  • Kim R. Bordner, parent of a Susquehanna graduate and carpenter foreman in the Department of Facilities Management, on behalf of the staff;
  • Megan McMullen Blue ’02, first vice president of the Alumni Executive Board, on behalf of the alumni;
  • The Rev. Lois D. Martin ’90, member of the Board of Trustees and intentional interim pastor with the Upper Susquehanna Synod, on behalf of the church;
  • Marvin J. Rudnitsky, president of the Selinsgrove Borough Council, on behalf of the community; and
  • Lynn C. Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, on behalf of the higher education community.

Also in attendance were former Susquehanna presidents and first ladies L. Jay and Marsha Lemons (2001-2017) and Joel L. and Trudy Cunningham (1984-2000). In addition, more than 90 colleges, universities, and learned and professional societies sent delegates to the inauguration.

Of them, six are presidents of their institutions, including Rebecca M. Bergman of Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn.; Mary Dana Hinton, College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn.; Marsha Kelliher, Walsh College, Troy, Mich.; Paul Pribbenow, Augsburg University, Minneapolis, Minn.; Carl J. Strikwerda, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pa.; James A. Troha, Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pa.; and President Emerita S. Georgia Nugent, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio.