Picturing Presidents Past
As Pines Gears Up for Inaugural Address, We Revisit Ceremonies of His Predecessors
Before President Darryll J. Pines takes the podium on Thursday to lay out his vision for the University of Maryland, we took a pit stop in the past for some inauguration inspiration.
As part of this week’s festivities—which celebrate innovation, the arts and even a new ice cream flavor—Pines will be officially installed as UMD’s 34th president during an investiture ceremony hosted by Philip Merrill College of Journalism alum and “News4 Today” anchor Eun Yang and featuring musical and poetry performances. An evening celebration will follow.
While each of Pines’ 33 predecessors shared their own plans and goals for UMD as they officially took the reins, many started their terms in unique ways, from revealing heartrending personal journeys to resigning a few weeks later due to poor health.
Parade through some inaugural tidbits from the university’s past presidents—including four who will be in attendance on Thursday:
Benjamin Hallowell (1859)
The first president of the University of Maryland, then called the Maryland Agricultural College, received quite the surprise at the school’s opening ceremonies in 1859: The trustees announced his new leadership role without notifying him first. Although he luckily accepted—on the condition that the campus farm not use slave labor—his tenure didn’t last long. He called it quits 30 days later, pleading ill health; a previous incident of an incorrectly mixed prescription—which had almost killed him—was likely a contributing factor. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)
Raymond A. Pearson (1926-35)
After the former president of Iowa State College was elected and before he officially took up his duties at Maryland in 1926, he took his first vacation in 14 years. According to The Diamondback, he met his wife and 9-year-old daughter in New York before sailing to Naples and visiting Southern France. The pre-presidential trip wasn’t purely for pleasure, though, as he investigated the educational research facilities at European colleges and universities while there. He brought that knowledge to his first full campus address, where he emphasized not only schoolwork, but also good health and attitude. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)
Wilson Homer “Bull” Elkins (1954-78)
Not only did Elkins’ Jan. 20, 1955, installation ceremony coincide with another familiar inauguration date in the U.S., but it also had a more specific Maryland tie. The event aligned with the school’s celebration of Charter Day, with the act establishing the College of Medicine of Maryland having passed on Jan. 20, 1808. (The Baltimore school combined with College Park’s Maryland State College of Agriculture in 1920 to become UMD, as it’s known today). Excitement buzzed as more than 2,000 guests packed the Armory, and those who couldn’t attend could listen to tape recordings or watch “TV movies” of the event. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)
John B. Slaughter (1982-88)
Although UMD began selecting chancellors to lead campus in 1970, Slaughter in 1983 became the first in that role to have an official inauguration ceremony. The former National Science Foundation director was also the first Black leader of the university. In front of nearly 500 attendees at Memorial Chapel, he outlined his goals to prepare Terps for the 21st century. The ceremony was followed by a champagne reception, where his wife and 86-year-old mother joined him in greeting the campus community. (Photo courtesy of The Diamondback/University Archives)
William English “Brit” Kirwan (1989-98)
After years in the Department of Mathematics and two stints as acting chancellor in 1982 and 1988, Kirwan became university president for good in 1989. At his May 1990 inauguration—capping a weeklong celebration similar to Pines’—he addressed a Tawes Theatre crowd of more than 1,200, speaking about his vision of molding Maryland into a model institution in higher education. According to The Diamondback, the campus community appreciated the teaching background he brought to the role, including two fellow Kirwan Terps: his daughter, Ann, a junior journalism student at the time, and his son, Bill, a UMD alum. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)
C.D. “Dan” Mote, Jr. (1998-2010)
Mote’s April 1999 ceremony was also part of a week of celebratory events, including the first Maryland Day, billed in The Diamondback as a “campus-wide open house” with over 220 games, tours, lectures and more. Other events in the week’s lineup showcased Terps’ research projects, tying into Mote’s goal to make UMD one of the greatest research universities in the country. He outlined that vision, as well as his high academic standards and hopes to build a culture of excellence, in front of around 900 guests in Memorial Chapel. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)
Wallace D. Loh (2010-20)
Pines’ immediate predecessor similarly laid out four main priorities in his April 2011 inauguration, addressing a crowd at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center—student opportunity and achievement, innovation and entrepreneurship, internationalization, and service to the people of Maryland. Loh’s own story added a personal touch to those goals, demonstrating the power of an education: Born in China and raised in Peru, he came to America at age 15 with limited English and $300. His four years at college transformed his life, he said. “It’s a story for every young person who can grow up thinking, ‘If he can make it, so can I.’” (Photo by John T. Consoli)