The nominal purpose of today’s inauguration ceremonies at Winthrop University is to install Jamie Comstock as the university’s 10th president. But, as she herself attests, the inauguration and the week of events leading up to it are less about her than they are about this moment in Winthrop’s long history and how the university and its extended community move forward from here.
While Comstock will be Winthrop’s 10th president, she is only the seventh to participate in a formal inauguration. And she clearly intended for the celebration to consist of more than that inauguration itself.
To that end, the previous week has featured an array of workshops, lectures, art displays, historical exhibits, live performances, sports and chocolate eating. These events are designed to serve the dual purpose of showcasing the school’s many facets and giving students, faculty, alumni and members of the public the chance to participate directly in the celebration of the inauguration.
In preparing her speech for today’s investiture ceremony, Comstock looked back at the inaugural speeches of some of her predecessors. One observation she had was that the speeches seemed rooted in their particular era and colored by the mores of traditions of the times.
Some were forward-thinking and prescient, others less so, she said. In each case, though, the inauguration provided an opportunity for the incoming president to highlight what makes Winthrop special and examine some of the goals and challenges that lie ahead.
We can’t say whether Comstock’s speech will dwell on specifics, such as how the university intends to increase enrollment or whether it will adopt a football program. But she is likely to flesh out her broad vision for Winthrop’s future and how, as president, she intends to help the university arrive at that future.
We already know that she will take an inclusive approach, involving the entire campus in the decision-making process whenever possible. And, as various members of the Winthrop community have noted, she is not afraid to make a decision when the time comes to do so.
She also is determined to maintain Winthrop’s status as one of the leading educational institutions in the state and region, and to build on that reputation during her tenure.
We congratulate her on this day when she will officially assume a position of leadership held by only nine others in Winthrop’s history. And, in the spirit she intended for this celebration, we congratulate all those with a stake in Winthrop’s future who have participated in the week’s events and who will continue to be involved in determining the direction the university takes in the months and years ahead.