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New York City
November 2002

Marymount Manhattan Inaugurates New President
By Sybil Maimin

It has been a season of inaugurations of new college presidents in New York City, and Judson R. Shaver joined the distinguished list as he became the seventh president of Marymount Manhattan College on October 18. In a ceremony steeped in tradition, robed academics, dignitaries, and delegates from a spectrum of colleges and universities with colorful hoods denoting degrees and departments, as well as students and staff, marched in a procession to honor and welcome the incoming president. Greetings were delivered by: Dennis Walcott, deputy mayor of New York City representing Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Bill Irwin, the performer, who revealed that he debuted with Judson Shaver in a high school play; Carol Ann Mooney, vice president of Notre Dame University, Professor Shaver’s proud alma mater; Geraldine Ferraro, a Marymount Manhattan alum who served in the House of Representatives and ran for vice president of the United States; and Ben Pryor, student government president who said, “We are your future and today, President Shaver, your future welcomes you.”

The evolution of Marymount Manhattan from a very traditional two-year girls’ college (a “finishing school,” said Ms. Ferraro) at its founding in 1936 to the four year, coed, urban, independent, liberal arts institution that it is today, serving a diverse population, was a common theme touched upon by speakers. That Dr. Shaver is the first male president of Marymout Manhattan and probably would not have been chosen for the position just a few years ago, illustrates the extent of these changes.

In his inaugural address, President Shaver affirmed his support for the inclusion of character development and values teaching in the college experience. Admitting that his has long been “a minority opinion,” he advised, “We in academia cannot afford disinterest in what our students do with their knowledge and skills.” Institutions of higher learning are increasingly under scrutiny as the public questions cost, whether or not students learn and how well prepared graduates are to take part in society upon their graduation. President Shaver cited a Carnegie report critical of higher education on grounds that 1) pre-professional studies and narrowly defined majors dominate; 2) professional and liberal arts education are far apart; 3) humanities are no longer important; 4) attempts to link humanities and sciences have failed; 5) fundraising dominates leaders’ time; and 6) searching self-assessments and adherence to mission are rarities. The new president reported that Marymount Manhattan has been engaged in “searching self-assessment” leading to a new strategic plan and a renewed and strengthened mission. “Like our city, we will be diverse, exciting, and committed,” he promised, and, “most of all, we will be distinguished by academic quality.#

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