Dr. Connie J. Gores Inaugurated as SMSU’s Ninth President


Kim Watkins, Editor-In-Chief

‘The Prairie. The People. The Possibilities.’ Staff, students, faculty and community members alike had this thought in mind as Dr. Connie J. Gores was officially inaugurated as Southwest Minnesota State University’s ninth president.

Though the celebration, held April 11, honored Dr. Gores’ official start at the college, she began her official term July 1, 2013.

For the 2013-2014 school year, Dr. Gores has kept three main themes in mind:
-Academic Excellence and Distinctiveness
-Student Learning and Success
-Meaningful Partnerships and Engagement

Since her term as president, Dr. Gores has become an interactive and engaging member of the community and SMSU.

Dr. Gores received a B.A. in Sociology from North Dakota State University; an M.Ed. in College Student Personnel Administration from Colorado State University; and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Higher Education Administration from the University of Washington. Before her term began as SMSU’s ninth president, Dr. Gores served at several universities. These include Portland State University, Willamette University College of Law, Cornish College of the Arts, Randolph-Macon Women’s College and Winona State University.

As a part of Inauguration Week, Dr. Gores, alongside members of the community and the college, participated in “Southwest Serves.” Events included: a food drive, Kids Against Hunger, a Ted Talk presentation on hunger awareness, a Volunteer/Service Learning Fair, and a litter cleanup event.

In a prelude to the Inauguration Ceremony, the SMSU Concert Choir performed “Ubi Caritas” by Maurice Durufle under the direction of Dr. Stephen Kingsbury. Following this, Dr. John Ginocchio directed the SMSU Symphonic Band, presenting two pieces – three pieces from “Children’s Corner” by Claude Debussy and “Seascape, Op. 53” by Ruth Gipps.

International students began the procession with a presentation of SMSU’s International Flags. The Minnesota National Guard, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery followed with the posting of colors. The Upper and Lower Sioux communities also presented flags. Following this, faculty and administration members filed in, culminating in the arrival of Dr. Gores. Natalie Campbell performed the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Dr. Beth Weatherby shared welcoming statements and introduced key speakers. Speakers included City Board member, John DeCramer; Board of Trustees MnSCU member, Alexander Cirillo, Jr.; Chancellor for MnSCU, Dr. Steven J. Rosenstone; and Dorene Kronke-McCourt on behalf of the SMSU Alumni and Foundation.

Rosenstone shares that this is a “special tradition and a right of passage for the university.”

Performing the interlude, “The Promise of Living”, the SMSU Concert Choir followed the direction of Dr. Kingsbury with pianists, Dr. Daniel Rieppel and Stacey Voit.

Continuing the greetings for the inauguration, SMSU Student Association president Joshua L. Anderson spoke on behalf of the students and shared that it was a “bright day for the history of SMSU.”

Other speakers included Dr. Vicky Brockman, SMSU Faculty Association president; Jefferson Lee IV, SMSU administrative and Service Faculty president; and Dr. Eric Runestad, SMSU’s employee representative.

“[Dr. Gores] has demonstrated her commitment…expresses passion and commitment to students; it is very clear that she is a valuable addition to SMSU,” Lee said.

Dr. Rosenstone continued with the Statement of Investment alongside Dr. Gores.

Dr. Gores was officially sworn in with the Oath of Office by Cirillo, who followed with the presentation of the Presidential Medallion and the University Mace.

Dr. Gores shared her thanks, followed by her inaugural address.

“I am honored and humbled to stand before you as the ninth president of SMSU,” Dr. Gores said.

In her address, Dr. Gores focused on the past and present of SMSU with emphasis of looking towards the future.

Dr. Weatherby concluded the ceremony and the SMSU Symphonic Band followed with the recessional song, “Suite in D (Mvt. 1-Allegro Moderato).”

All members of SMSU and the community were invited to a reception in Dr. Gores’ honor following the ceremony.

Dr. Gores shared that the day was very meaningful for her and was glad to share it with family, friends, mentors and colleagues.