The inauguration of President Kevin Weinman as Marist College’s fifth president last September was a day of excitement and pride, as the Marist community and representatives across higher education came together to celebrate an institution rich in history and well-positioned to thrive in the years ahead.
Thousands of individuals gathered on the Campus Green on Sept. 23 on a picturesque autumn day, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, local community leaders, and friends of the College. Delegates from 51 other colleges and universities across the country also made the trip to Poughkeepsie, including representatives from Amherst, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of New Hampshire, Notre Dame, and Columbia. Many of the delegates had not visited Marist before and expressed how struck they were by the College’s beautiful campus, state-of-the-art facilities, and deep sense of community.
A focal point of President Weinman’s remarks highlighted one of Marist’s most distinctive qualities: the blend of a liberal arts education and preprofessional training that is at the heart of a Marist education and is key to solving society’s most pressing problems.
“As you know, there is much debate about the continuing value of the liberal arts compared to a form of education that focuses on professional training. I don’t understand this. In fact, I see no debate here at all,” he said. “The debate between the relative merits of a liberal arts education versus professional education presumes that we must choose one or the other. We don’t. Not only can they co-exist, they are mutually reinforcing. This is especially true at Marist College. Here, we aspire to and, not or.”
This unique combination is what has prepared generations of Marist graduates for success and is a big part of what attracted Weinman to the College, in addition to its very student-centric culture. “You are why I am here,” he said, addressing the students directly. “You inspire me each and every day. It will be my never-ending mission to help you get the most out of your Marist experience.”
Marist Student Government Association President Gabriel Borbon ’23 spoke on behalf of the student body, praising Weinman’s strong commitment to engaging with students from the moment he joined Marist as president on Oct. 4, 2021.
“Dr. Weinman’s first meeting on his very first day was with the student government. That fact alone should tell you a lot about how much he values the students at Marist,” Borbon said. “In one short year, he has shown that he is dedicated to helping students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives. I think the Marist community can rest assured that the future of Marist College is bright and that there are even better days to come.”
Dr. Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, president emerita at Amherst College, who was president of Amherst while Weinman served as Amherst’s chief financial and administrative officer, delivered the keynote address.
“Kevin’s forms of expertise are so wide-ranging, certainly in finance, in computation and data-driven analysis, but he combines those with an appreciation of the imaginative arts, and the rigorous reading and analytic methods of the humanities. That is what students, and the rest of the world, need. All of that," Martin said. "In addition to his other qualities, you will find Kevin’s steadiness and his positive outlook make him an ideal person to lead. Kevin is truly a connector of fields, professions, opportunities, and people. What we see here today is evidence of that.”
A ceremony that celebrated the College’s history, academic mission, and rich traditions was balanced with fun, lighthearted moments and even a bit of humor.
In a video, Word on the River student host Joe Tuosto ’23 challenged Weinman to taste-test a popular student sandwich mashup from the North End café: putting a chicken sandwich on top of a grilled cheese. Weinman’s verdict after his first bite: “That is everything I’d imagine it would be.”
In her keynote, Martin told a few tales on her former colleague. On the subject of Marist’s campus in Florence, Italy, she said, “I noted with interest that your new president hadn’t been here a year before he decided he needed to visit that [campus].”
During the ceremony, Weinman’s son, Alex, recalled the day his father introduced him to the game of golf. “While he tried to teach me lessons about stance, grip, and follow-through, the most important lesson I learned for being on the golf course with him is this: stand far behind my dad when he’s swinging a golf club. No one is safe when Kevin Weinman takes a swing.”
Weinman’s daughter, Brooke, and his wife, Beth, also played key roles in the ceremony. Brooke performed River Flows in You by Yiruma on the piano, and Beth shared reflections about her husband.
“I have known Kevin for over 28 years now. Throughout this time, he has always worked hard and dedicated himself to making the lives of those around him better, but I have never seen him so excited about an opportunity to make a difference as he is here at Marist,” Beth Weinman said. “Marist, you are getting someone who does not do anything halfway, who tries to be everywhere all the time, and who cares deeply for everyone he’s around.”
In acknowledging President Emeritus Dennis Murray, President Weinman noted it is Murray’s “vision and leadership for nearly 40 years that transformed Marist into the remarkable college it is today.” As a result, the institution is well positioned for continued growth and success.
“Even as we celebrate the Marist here today, I am already looking ahead to our centennial in 2029,” said Weinman. “My dream includes both an epic celebration of the conclusion of a remarkable first century and a launchpad for an even more amazing second century.”
He identified two key areas that will drive Marist forward into its next 100 years: innovate, and innovate relentlessly, and make Marist’s form of education available and accessible to any student who has the talent and drive to succeed here. He invited not only current students, faculty, and staff to help advance this ambitious vision, but also alumni who have been core to getting Marist to where it is today.
Weinman touted past achievements of the Marist community that have made innovation part of the school’s DNA, such as its 34-year partnership with IBM, world-renowned Fashion Program, thriving branch campus in Florence, Italy, and nationally recognized online programs.
“As we are innovating and improving, we are also opening our campus to an ever more diverse and talented group of students,” he added. “We must continue to focus on making a Marist education accessible to every student who can succeed here. Every student must feel a sense of belonging … I won’t rest until we achieve this important goal.”
These bold priorities, coupled with a new strategic plan, which is expected to be completed in May 2023, will give alumni, students, faculty, staff, and parents countless opportunities and different ways to engage to help shape and contribute to the Marist of the future.
Weinman concluded his address by noting that the Hudson River represents Marist’s values, community, and aspirations. “It supports incredible biodiversity and contributes to the vibrancy of life in the region. In this way the river mirrors the human diversity and richness of Marist College. I tell Marist students all the time … their lives are going to be complicated. Like this stunning river, the crosscurrents they face will be relentless and unpredictable. Their Marist education equips them to succeed no matter what comes their way.”
The inauguration ceremony was the culmination of two days of activities that showcased the best of the Marist community. It included an open house at the Steel Plant Studios featuring the work of faculty, students, and alumni from the Art Department and Fashion Program; installations of student and alumni research and creative activity; an academic symposium showcasing Marist faculty and “snap talks” where select faculty presented research. After the inauguration, all were welcome at a reception on the Champagnat Green.
To see inauguration events, including video of the full ceremony and the entire slate of campus activities, visit https://www.marist.edu/inauguration.