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Springfield College Prepares for the Inauguration of President Mary-Beth Cooper

Joe Brown



Photo Courtesy Office of Marketing and Communications/Office of Archives and Special Collections
Photo Courtesy Office of Marketing and Communications/Office of Archives and Special Collections

Get ready for a long party, Springfield College.

On Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 12 p.m. the festivities involving President Mary-Beth Cooper’s Inauguration are set to begin and last through Saturday, Nov. 16. The culminating event may be the inauguration ceremony – which all students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to attend – but for the college’s 13th president and the Inauguration Coordinating Committee, the circumstance provides an opportunity for much more.

“It was important to me that we took this opportunity to celebrate Springfield College and not just the fact that you have a new president,” Cooper said. “The real cause for people to rally is [to] take a look at where Springfield College has come, why it is a special place and where it’s going. There’s this kind of past, present and future feeling to the inauguration.”

Presidential inaugurations at the home of the Pride in the past have had complex titles, such as 12th president, Dr. Richard B. Flynn’s “Traveling Into The New Millennium – Let’s Enjoy the Journey,” or 11th president, Dr. Randolph W. Bromery’s “Springfield College’s Vision 2003, Boldly Into the 21st Century.” The theme for Cooper’s is not flashy or wordy. On the contrary, it is quite simple, yet it is precisely what she wanted to get across.

“It’s so simple that we don’t want people to miss it,” Cooper said.

The title, “A Celebration of Springfield College,” is self-explanatory. The inauguration is more than just a celebration of the institution’s new president. It is a school-wide celebration of a story – the past, present and future of Springfield College.

For a school with 128 years of memories, a celebration of this magnitude could not be contained to a day or two…or even three or four. No, this party is going to be rocking for five days straight.

“I am so excited. I love Springfield College, and to have an entire week dedicated to really showing how incredible it is, I couldn’t think of anything better,” SGA President Becca Jacobson said.

Jacobson received the distinct honor of being a student representative on the Coordinating Committee, which was led by co-chairs John White (vice president for Development and Alumni Relations) and Jean Wyld (vice president for Academic Affairs). The committee began creating the extensive schedule in mid-August.

The college’s beloved triangle and mission of spirit, mind and body was taken into special consideration when planning the events prepared for the celebration. The festivities will kick off with the revival of a classic Springfield College tradition when the college welcomes back Cage Ball. Cage Ball is a game that is played with a very heavy ball. The ball must be moved from one side of the field to the other to score a point. For the revived version, students will be playing with a 12-foot tall beach ball, according to Jacobson. The game will take place from 12 to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12 to start off the inauguration activities.

Other featured events on Tuesday include a reception with Cooper sponsored by the Graduate Student Organization from 5-6 p.m., a CAB-sponsored magician and juggler at 8 p.m., and a Spiritual Life event on Rally Hill at 7 p.m.

“We’re going to gather down on Rally Hill and Dave McMahon [the Director of Spiritual Life] has prepared a really great ceremony for students, clubs and residence halls to get involved in,” Jacobson said. “You have the opportunity to put a candle out on the lake and publicly express what Springfield College has done for you, but more importantly, where you as a student leader want to take the college.”

Wednesday events include a tug-of-war contest between the classes on Naismith Green at 12 p.m., and a Late Night Madness Build-A-Bear event in the Union starting at 7 p.m. Fifty bears will be donated to Shriners Hospital at the conclusion of the event to keep with the spirit portion of the triangle.

Thursday features the Naismith Original Rules Basketball Game at the Field House at noon. After the game, the Cooper Cup will be awarded. The cup is the culmination of the preceding events. The class with the highest total attendance numbers at the end of the events up to and including the basketball game will be presented the trophy.

Afterwards, a special dinner will be held in Cheney Dining Hall from 5-7 p.m. courtesy of ARAMARK. The first of three theater performances will be showcased at 8 p.m. in the Fuller Arts Center as well. The production, RX, will also be presented on Friday and Saturday at the same time.

On Friday, there will be a faculty and student academic showcase in Judd Gymnasia from 10-11:30 a.m. before the climax of the celebration, Cooper’s inauguration ceremony, gets underway from 3-4:30 p.m. The ultimate celebratory get-together will take place in Blake Arena. Students are encouraged to RSVP through the email that they received on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and show up wearing college colors. As for the ceremony itself, Cooper has some surprises in store.

“There will be some elements to the entertainment that will be unique and moving,” Cooper said. “Some things that have not been done here at Springfield College before.”

For Cooper, her inauguration may be a great opportunity to celebrate the college that she has already embraced wholeheartedly in her two months here, but the spotlight will eventually shine on her and her alone.

“I’m really excited. I’m pumped about it. But it’s an awesome responsibility. For me it may be one of the most important days in my professional career, so I’m a little excited and anxious,” Cooper said. “I’m planning on you not having another one anytime soon.”

A celebration is only as enjoyable as the amount of people that attend, however. For this celebration to be truly memorable, student and faculty participation is crucial.

“We’ve only had 13 presidents in 128 years. This is a great opportunity to take part in a historical moment,” White said. “I would hope all of our students, all of our alums, faculty and staff would want to say they’re a part of that.”

“We’re here for four years as a student, but you’re an alumni forever. To be able to take part in something that so many future generations are going to be impacted by, I just don’t see how anyone could want to pass that up,” Jacobson added.

The inauguration-associated events will conclude on Saturday with a 5K Fun Run/Walk on the campus starting at 10 a.m., followed by a breakfast at the Cooper residence, football vs. WPI at 12 p.m. and an 8 p.m. showing of RX.

With 128 years of history, the present and the future of a college to celebrate, along with the inauguration of the institution’s 13th president, Springfield College will be rocking for five days straight next week, showcasing what it truly means to have Pride.

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