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#ThinkDoLead: Inaugural & Presidential Traditions

With the Inauguration of Katherine Bergeron as 11th President of Connecticut College only days away, learn about the traditions that will be part of the Installation Ceremony. Watch the ceremony live on Saturday, April 5, 2014 beginning at 10:30 a.m.

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Alma Mater

Via Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives, Connecticut College

"Alma Mater by the Sea" was written in the spring of 1920 by two Connecticut College students, Olive Littlehales Corbin '21 (words) and Edith C. Smith '20 (music). Their composition prevailed over other original student works in a contest to find a College song. Additional stanzas were added in the late 1980s by Jeffrey G. Barnhart '89 MAT '92 and Claire L. Gaudiani '66.

College Charter

Via Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives, Connecticut College

The State Legislature chartered Connecticut College on April 4, 1911, and the charter was signed by the Connecticut Secretary of State on April 5, 1911. The charter establishes the College as a legal entity, provides the authority to confer degrees, and creates a board of trustees to govern the institution. The chair of the board presents the incoming president with a copy of the charter during the installation ceremony as a sign of the trust and responsibility the College places in its new leader.

College Motto

The motto translates to "Like a tree planted by the rivers of water (that bringeth forth its fruit in its season)." The motto is a Vulgate version of a phrase from the First Psalm. Connecticut College's translation comes from the King James version of the Bible.

College Seal

The seal is comprised of several elements, including two open books, a tree on a background of water and the College’s motto. The current seal is based on a design created by the College’s first president (1913-1917), Frederick H. Sykes.

Founders Day

View this video on YouTube

The College's birthday, known as Founders Day, is celebrated on April 5, the date in 1911 on which the College’s original charter was signed by the Connecticut Secretary of State. The Connecticut State Assembly originally approved the charter on April 4 to Thames College. The name was changed a few months later to Connecticut College for Women. With Inauguration on Founders Day, the College symbolically connects its past with its future.

Greetings and Delegates

Colleges invite representatives of various organizations, groups and government entities to bring greetings or express good wishes during the Inauguration. Other educational institutions and societies are also invited to send delegates to take part in the Inaugural procession. Many institutions, even if not represented by a delegate, send written greetings. A selection of the greetings received by Connecticut College on the occasion of Katherine Bergeron’s Inauguration is on display at the Charles E. Shain Library, along with memorabilia from previous Inaugurations.


College Marshall Ann Sloan Devlin holds the College Mace and leads the recessional at Commencement 2012.

Connecticut College’s mace was a gift from The Century Council when Claire L. Gaudiani ’66 began her presidency in 1988. It was designed and fabricated by Richard Scheller ’73. The names of all the College’s presidents are engraved on bands of brass that circle the handle.

Palmer Auditorium

Via Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives, Connecticut College

Built in 1939, Palmer Auditorium has been the setting for several Connecticut College Inaugurations. It was built in honor of Frank Loomis Palmer, an early trustee, with a bequest from his daughter Virginia. The architect was Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, the firm that designed the Empire State Building. Like that New York landmark, Palmer Auditorium has some art deco features in its stonework.

Learn more about Palmer and other buildings on campus in #ThinkDoLead: 103 Years Of Amazing Architecture on BuzzFeed.

Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion, featuring the Connecticut College seal, is designed to be worn on ceremonial occasions as part of the president’s regalia. The medallion was created for the Inauguration of Leo I. Higdon, Jr., and was a gift to the College from Trustee Emeritus Linda J. Lear ’62. The Chair of the Board of Trustees presents the incoming president with the medallion as a symbol of the authority being entrusted to the new leader.

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