Southern Vermont College Celebrates Inauguration

On November 18, Southern Vermont College inaugurated its eighth president, Dr. Karen Gross.

A professor of law for more than 20 years at New York Law School, Gross has earned a national and international reputation as a scholar, teacher, speaker and advocate for the needs of vulnerable individuals and communities. She founded and led an award-winning non-profit organization that designs, implements and assesses programs to improve financial literacy skills. She has been honored for her efforts by many organizations, including the Legal Aid Society and American Association of University Women. Gross received her B.A. from Smith College, cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. She holds a J.D. degree, cum laude, from Temple University.

The celebration began with the music of "Trumpet Voluntary" by Jeremiah Clarke, which was performed by SVC student Joshua Loeffler, class of 2010, on trumpet. The colorful academic procession concluded with the SVC Board of Trustees, student leaders, alumni board members, and faculty as well as guest speakers and 38 delegates from institutions of higher education.

SVC Board of Trustee Chair Michael Rolla welcomed dignitaries, friends of the college, and community members, and Trustee member Wallace Altes extended official greetings.

Dr. Gross was introduced by St. Francis College President Frank Macchiarola. His remarks were preceded by "Canis Major" a composition for violin and voice, with music by Allen Shawn and poetry by Robert Frost. It was performed by L'Ensemble soprano and Artistic Director and SVC Artist-in-Residence and faculty member Ida Faiella, accompanied by violinist Barry Finclair.

In her inaugural address, Gross focused on her vision of higher education in the 21 st century. "This is a wonderful opportunity to share my thinking with the SVC and larger community and to highlight the enormous potential I see in SVC - for today and tomorrow."

Gross anchored her speech by citing five books, each one representing one of the college's five divisions: Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande; How to See: a Guide to Reading Our Man-Made Environment by George Nelson; The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway; Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire; and Solving Tough Problems by Adam Kahane. The reference to these five books is part of a larger strategic effort to signal about education, the world of ideas and the importance of developing a sense of community through the printed word.

Following the address, the Southern Vermont College Choral Ensemble, under the direction of SVC professor Randall Krum, performed "In the Quiet of the Morning," an original work composed by Krum for the occasion.

The recessional concluded with "Prelude to Te Deum Laudamus" by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, featuring trumpet soloist Joshua Loeffler. The inaugural ceremony was followed with a reception.

Earlier in the day, a President's Round Table on the topic of Education in the 21st Century was held in the Everett Mansion Theatre on campus with President Gross, President Elizabeth Coleman from Bennington College, President Mildred Garcia from Berkeley College, and President Frank Macchiarola from St. Francis College. In addition, a live radio broadcast on WBTN 1370-AM featured guest speaker Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU, on the topic of Civil Liberties in the 21st Century.

In the evening, Gross held informal conversations with guests in her office, which was followed by a L'Ensemble chamber concert titled "Shostakovich and Schumann - Political and Personal Demons," featuring pianist Charles Ambramovic, soprano Ida Faiella, violinist Barry Finclair, violist Olivia Koppell, and cellist Jesse Levy.

Founded in 1926, Southern Vermont College offers a liberal arts education with 20 academic degree programs for approximately 500 students. Southern Vermont College recognizes the importance of educating students for the workplace of the twenty-first century and for lives as successful leaders in their communities. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.