Published April 16, 2015

‘Think anew, act anew’

Dr. Clarence R. Wyatt inaugurated as 14th president of Monmouth College
  • Dr. Clarence R. Wyatt takes the presidential oath during Friday’s inauguration ceremony at Monmouth College. Also pictured, from right, are William Goldsborough, chairman of MC’s board of the board of trustees; Nancy Snowden, vice-chair of the board, who chaired the presidential search committee; and First Lady Lobie Stone, who is holding a Bible that belonged to the college’s first president, Rev. David Wallace. Pictured at left is Dr. John A. Roush, president of Centre College, who presented Wyatt for investiture.
With a message of “Think Anew, Act Anew,” Dr. Clarence R. Wyatt was inaugurated as the 14th president of Monmouth College on April 17.
Drawing upon his career as a historian, Wyatt quoted from President Abraham Lincoln’s second annual message to Congress, Dec. 1, 1862, comparing the turbulence of the Civil War period to the current uncertainty regarding the future of higher education: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.” Wyatt declared that this same idea – “think anew, act anew” – will be a first principle of Monmouth College.
In his message, Wyatt announced the successful completion of a challenge gift that will provide $5 million for new initiatives supporting the inaugural theme, including $2.5 million in venture capital to aggressively seize opportunities and address challenges that will accelerate the college’s development. Another $2.5 million is slated for the endowment to create the Stockdale Fellows Program, named in honor of Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, a Medal of Honor winner and Monmouth alumnus, and his wife, Sybil. Beginning in fall 2016, the program will recognize exceptional intellectual and service achievements through full-tuition scholarships, concentrated mentoring and enrichment projects.
Wyatt also announced a program to “open the world to our students” by providing the paperwork and application fee for each Monmouth student to receive a U.S. passport.
“Monmouth is distinctively positioned to define another path – creating a more intentional, purposeful and coordinated program of human development, and ensuring that this experience is responsive and available to a changing American and global society,” said Wyatt.
The $5 million challenge, issued last fall by a friend of the college and her spouse, required that the college raise $2.5 million in new gifts by Dec. 31, 2015. With more than $3 million raised, that goal has already been surpassed, eight months ahead of schedule.
Wyatt outlined four guiding principles for his administration: Monmouth will remain a place of high opportunity that is accessible to bright and aspiring students of all backgrounds; the Monmouth experience will be integrative and interdisciplinary; experiential learning will be a cornerstone of a Monmouth education; and an increased focus will be placed on engagement in the global society and travel abroad.
Wyatt also called for the Monmouth community to think not of the “liberal arts,” but rather of the “liberating arts” – an educational experience that frees us to anticipate and respond to ever-more rapid change.
A native of Kentucky, Wyatt honored his roots by inviting three individuals from the state to participate. They included: Dr. John A. Roush, president of Centre College, who presented Wyatt for investiture; Dr. Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations at Centre, who presented a historical reading; and poet Tony L. Crunk, a longtime friend of Wyatt’s, who read from his works.
The investiture ceremony was performed by William Goldsborough ’65, chairman of the board of the board of trustees; Nancy Snowden, vice-chair of the board, who chaired the search committee; and Lobie Stone, Wyatt’s spouse.
Four individuals delivered greetings to President Wyatt, on behalf of Monmouth’s faculty, staff, students and alumni. They included Marsha Dopheide, president of Monmouth College’s Faculty Senate, who said, “President Wyatt, we trust you will help all of us  – students, staff and faculty – to not only imagine better, but to do better.”
Additionally, Jeff Arnold, executive director of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, and Monmouth mayor Rod Davies presented greetings.
“We watch with pride as the college continues to grow, both physically and in academic prestige,” said Davies, who is a 1974 graduate of Monmouth. “At the same time, we look forward to the guidance and inspiration that you and Lobie can bring to our downtown, based on your expertise in historic preservation and community development.”
Wyatt concluded his inaugural address with the following words:
“The promise of peace and prosperity unprecedented in human history lie within our grasp. Our opportunity, our obligation, is to raise our sights, to envision, create and sustain an educational experience that nurtures the people who will unlock that future. Let us come to this place each day, determined and joyful, to carry out this mission to the best of our abilities. Our only limits are imagination and energy. Let us think anew. Let us act anew, and in doing so free ourselves, free our students, and through them, free our world to realize the power of possibility that lies within us all.”
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