A Historic Day for the University of Lynchburg

By Alyssa Wilson ~ Assistant Editor

(From left to right) Nathan Albert, Robert Lemon Jr., Matthew Gillett, President Alison Morrison- Shetlar, Sharon Foreman, Matthew Scruggs,
Kelli S. Rainey, MaryJane Dolan. Photo taken by Jess Head on Oct 1.

This Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, was a historic day for the University of Lynchburg. The very first female, foreign born and first-generation president, Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, was inaugurated a year after she took the helm as president at the university. 

The official ceremony lasted for about an hour on the steps of Hopwood Hall overlooking the Dell, in the middle of Lynchburg’s campus and was attended by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. 

President Morrison-Shetlar said, “I truly felt like a president the moment I stepped onto this campus and met everyone as everybody was so welcoming and so pleased to work together for the future of this institution.” 

In her speech, President Morrison-Shetlar addressed some inequities amongst the campus community and noted that she wants to help ensure that all voices are heard and represented. She said, “I look forward to partnering with our community to make a place for more students, faculty, and staff of color who are feeling voiceless, our LGBTQ+ and all affinity groups to feel welcomed and supported.” 

The ceremony involved processional music performed by University of Lynchburg Wind Symphony and Orchestra, bagpipes music by Albemarle Pipes and Drums, many speakers from across the Lynchburg community, a Scottish dance performed by University of Lynchburg Dance Works Ensemble, and choral music performed by the University of Lynchburg Concert Choir. 

Senior and choir member, Alison Horton, said, “It means a lot to be welcoming a new president and to be part of something so momentous. It felt really great to be included in something like this.” 

Student Government Association President Matthew Gillett said, “ I love her three pillars and being able to see those be put into action. Inclusive Excellence, Innovation and Collaboration, and Leadership Development. Those are three things that I think will really help our campus.” 

President Morrison-Shetlar addressed the three pillars that she hopes will be the foundation of the Lynchburg experience. 

President Emeritus Dr. Kenneth R. Garren presented the President’s medallion. Garren said, “I am so pleased and so proud to formally pass the leadership baton onto Dr. Morrison-Shetlar. I know that this place we all love so dearly will thrive under her strong leadership.” 

Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development B.J. Keefer said, “We loved Ken and I think his leadership was amazing. But, it’s time for new leadership. And I think what President Alison wants to do for us in terms of our pillars and take us to the next level. I think that’s what it’s all about, you pass the baton and the leadership changes and then the institution continues to grow.” 

Chair of the University of Lynchburg Board of Trustees Robert Lemon Jr., said, “She will be the first woman and the first person born outside of the United States to serve as President of the University of Lynchburg. She is uniquely prepared to lead us into the future.” 

President Morrison-Shetlar is paving the way for all students but especially female students on campus as she leads as the first woman in such a high position at the university. 

Freshman Alyssa Camejo said, “It feels so empowering to have a woman as president. I’m glad it’s happening. I think it’s long overdue to have women in positions of power where the decisions are being made.” 

President Morrison-Shetlar said, “So today was a very very special day, but it was also a special day to celebrate our students. That’s what it is really all about. I had about 45 minutes of ‘it’s all about me.’ But for the rest of the day, the rest of the year, the rest of the decade is all about our students.” 

President Morrison-Shetlar is truly dedicated to making the campus community a better place and improving all students’ education at the University of Lynchburg. Although it was a big day for her, she made it clear that the day was the beginning of a brand new start for all faculty, students, and staff. 

A livestream of President Morrison-Shetlar’s inauguration has been uploaded on Youtube. 

Sources

Alison Horton horton_a@lynchburg.edu

Alyssa Camejo camejoa823@lynchburg.edu

B.J. Keefer keefer.b@lynchburg.edu

Matthew Gillett gillett_ma@lynchburg.edu

President Alison Morrison-Shetlar president@lynchburg.edu

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