David Wippman was inaugurated as Hamilton’s 20th president on Oct. 8, promising to work with the Hamilton community “to make this wonderful college, this splendid and special place, ever more splendid and special.”
Among special guests at the ceremony was Walter F. Mondale, 42nd vice president of the U.S. Mondale was a member of the search committee that chose Wippman to lead the University of Minnesota Law School where he had served for eight years before coming to Hamilton. The two have been close friends ever since.
Among the estimated 1,500 in attendance in the Field House were more than 60 delegates representing American colleges and universities.
In his address Wippman stressed the need for the community to work together “to create a campus environment in which all students feel welcome and all students can thrive.” Doing so, he said, “reaffirms our commitment to the full and free exchange of ideas. That is a core value of this college and of liberal arts education generally.”
Wippman recalled that in his Convocation address this year, he emphasized to students “the importance of engaging with viewpoints with which they may strongly disagree. I noted that doing so will not always be easy and it will not always be comfortable,” he remarked. “But easy and comfortable are not part of our educational mission. Intellectual, social, and moral development are; and they occur only when we confront new ideas and consider other perspectives, even if we find those ideas and perspectives uncomfortable,” said Wippman.
“At the same time, our students’ desire for a learning environment that supports all of their classmates is entirely laudable. We must do more to foster such an environment, so that when students engage with ideas that are difficult or offensive, they can do so in a productive and respectful way,” Wippman said.
In his remarks, Mondale noted the number of Minnesotans who had come to take part in the ceremony. “We didn’t have to be here,” he said, “but we wanted to be here to tell you what a great, gifted, kind person David Wippman is and will be here at Hamilton.” Mondale said Wippman “has values, is a scholar and teacher and a good American ... it’s the kind of influence that we came to expect from him.”
Mondale cited some Hamilton graduates who have made a positive impact on our country – including Sol Linowitz ’35, Drew Days ’63 and Tom Vilsack ’72 and called them examples of the “leaders that Hamilton College produces. I think we need to restore the kind of values your [Hamilton graduate] leaders have brought to public life,” Mondale remarked.
Opening the ceremony Steven Sadove ’72, chairman of the board of trustees, said the presidential search committee “wanted it all,” and in Wippman they found a person with “experience, intellect leadership and vision.”
David Wippman is featured in the latest edition of the Alumni Review. He is committed to listening, learning and building on the college's success.
The inauguration featured greetings from all Hamilton constituencies. Kureem Nugent ’18, president of Hamilton’s Student Assembly, said Wippman, “cares about the students and makes a valiant effort to get to know Hamilton’s student body.” Nugent said “students want a president who will take into account multiple perspectives and one who is not afraid to go against the norm…. I know that President Wippman….is truly in a position to bring change on this campus and will not disappoint.”
Ann Owen, professor of economics and the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of Public Policy, spoke on behalf of the faculty. “We look forward to working with President Wippman to prepare our students to live meaningful lives in today’s world,” she said. “For those of you who know the Hamilton faculty, you may appreciate that, often, we passionately debate from multiple perspectives and experiences. We rarely speak with one voice,” Owen continued, “but, today we do. David, we welcome you into our intellectual community and we invite you to work together with us to provide the very best liberal arts education.”
Wei-Fang Lin, assistant director of institutional research, represented Hamilton staff. Referencing Wippman’s love for cycling she said, “As you embark on this journey as president, if you come upon a hill you’re not expecting, please know that you can rely on us – the staff, your teammates – to work with you and support you to ensure that you crest that you overcome that obstacle.”
Carrie Burns Evans, a Clinton village trustee, greeted Wippman on behalf of the local community. Gordon Kaye ’74, president of Hamilton’s Alumni Association, also welcomed Wippman, citing the loyalty of Hamilton alumni and pledged their loyalty and support.
Robert Delaney Jr. ’79, a charter trustee who was on the search committee that recommended Wippman, brought greetings on behalf of the trustees. He called Wippman an “exceptional leader and scholar.”
The ceremony was followed by an all-campus picnic and a full schedule of Fallcoming and Family Weekend festivities. Wippman's remarks may be viewed here.