As she prepares for her inauguration as Dickinson College’s 29th president, Margee Ensign understands the mantle she’s been handed.
In taking over one of the oldest colleges in America, Ensign said she is building on a foundation of civic engagement that has been crafted over the decades and centuries with the ideals of the founding fathers in mind, sharing their belief that an educated, engaged citizen is vital to the community.
That focus on the community will play a vital role in the events on Thursday and Friday that lead up to her installation ceremony Saturday.
“These two days reflect the community coming to campus, and then the campus going to the community,” Ensign said.
Dickinson College announced in February that its board of trustees had selected Ensign as its next president, filling the vacancy left by Nancy Roseman, who resigned as the college’s 28th president last year after three years in the position. Provost and Dean of the College Neil Weissman had served as interim president.
Ensign comes to Dickinson after serving as the president of the American University of Nigeria, a private university based on the U.S. model of higher education, and the first development university in Africa.
The events surrounding Ensign’s inauguration accent the connection between the campus and the community that she would like to see become stronger during her time as president of the college.
The community-focused celebration begins Thursday night with the Civic Engagement Celebration in the social hall at Holland Union Building from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The celebration will give the community the chance to see the range of partnerships that help promote learning and service for the common good, Ensign said.
The event sets the stage for Friday’s foray into the community as the United Way’s Day of Caring launches out of the campus into the community to serve local nonprofit organizations. A team that includes Dickinson College students and staff will be volunteering along with teams from other area businesses and organizations.
That evening, Dickinson College students and faculty will perform at various locations as part of First Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Carlisle. The theme for this month’s event is “Music Walk & Dickinson Homecoming.”
Performances begin with an acappella concert at 5 p.m. at the Carlisle Theatre. At 5:30 p.m. eXiled Poetry will take the stage at Square bean and the Quidditch Club will be on the Weiss Center lawn. Dickinson dance groups Anwar, DTG, Synergy and Hypnotic will perform at Bosler Memorial Library at 6 p.m.
A symposium, Arts for the Common Good, will be held at the Weiss Center for the Arts at 6:30 p.m. The symposium features selected performances and presentations from faculty and students that respond to Dickinson’s mission to prepare students for engaged lives of citizenship in service to society.
Ensign said the college’s theme is “a useful education for the common good,” and that is what drives the college’s participation in First Friday.
“That’s what all of this reflects. The arts are doing art for the common good,” she said.
The events culminate in Saturday’s installation ceremony at 10 a.m. on the John Dickinson Campus at the corner of West High and North West streets, to which Ensign has invited the entire Carlisle community.
Fifty representatives from around the world, including Dr. Gilbert Bukenya, the former vice-president of Uganda as well as a delegation of Ensign’s colleagues from Nigeria, will be attending.
“Join our community as we continue the historic tradition of Dickinson College and American universities,” Ensign said.