July 21, 2024

Gordon College Inaugurates Dr. Michael Hammond as 9th President

Michel Bayarjargal '24 Staff Writer

[Board of Trustees and family pray over Hammond; photo by Aaron Jacob]

This article has been updated since its initial release to correct for inaccuracies and to provide additional information.

President Michael Hammond identified three “bright hopes” for the future of Gordon College – despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a cultural climate marred by polarity and disingenuity – during his inaugural address Friday: “a legacy of faith that is unwavering and enduring in its commitment;” “people who use their talents for a higher purpose, avoiding the temptation of selfish motives;” and “academic excellence marked by a humble curiosity and drive for discovery.” 

Hammond, who was installed as Gordon’s ninth president, reflected on the theme “Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow,” drawn from the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” 

“Our strength for today is the result of God’s faithfulness to Gordon over 133 years,” Hammond said. 

Hammond made repeated references to Barrington College, an evangelical college in Rhode Island that merged with Gordon in 1985. 

Noting the merger with Barrington and other milestones in Gordon’s history, Hammond said “Through each of these chapters of God’s faithfulness in New England and the world, Gordon College students served with a spiritual fervor and desire to live out the Christian gospel with care and concern for the hurting and broken.” 

Hammond affirmed the value of the liberal arts, saying “when realized well, [the liberal arts] propel students to learning marked by insatiable curiosity. In its best form, in addition to preparing for a job and career, college learning guides whole person development that becomes transformational for the community and the world. As we continue toward purposeful transformation in our learning community, we will integrate faith, learning, and living; we will cultivate imagination with a disposition of hope and service; and we will inspire creative contribution to God’s purposes, and we will do so in a spirit of Shalom that grants dignity to all people and looks past the prejudice and discrimination of our age. This has been our strength and will continue to provide hope as our legacy of deep commitment to Jesus Christ guides us, and God’s faithfulness sustains us.” 

In closing, he exhorted Gordon to “step forward with a great legacy of faith that inspires courage, humility, and confidence in our great God to give us wisdom and strength to live into tomorrow’s bright hope.” 

The service opened with a welcome from Board of Trustees Chair, The Hon. Herman J. Smith, Jr.. Guests then all stood together to sing “In Christ Alone” with the College Choir, directed by Dr. Benjamin Klemme.  

Other speakers at the ceremony included: Wake Forest University President Emeritus Dr. Nathan Hatch; Houghton College President Emeritus Dr. Shirley Mullen representing the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Dr. Jay Barnes from the Christian College Consortium; Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary President Dr. Scott Sunquist; and President of Kairos Partnerships Reverend Dr. J.R. Briggs. 

Student, faculty, staff, and alumni representatives lead the charge to Dr. Hammond to honor God and shepherd the Gordon community in faithfulness and love during the investiture service. Dr. Carrie Tibbles presented Dr. Hammond with the Presidential Medallion to great applause from the audience, and the Board of Trustees conducted the Prayer of Commitment.  

The service closed with a performance of “Bless the Lord” and “High and Lifted Up” by God’s Chosen Gospel Choir, directed by Craig Ramsey and Benediction from long time Gordon College and Barrington College Old Testament Professor, Dr. Marvin Wilson. Guests left after the recessional, during which Dr. Sarita Kwok, Chair of the Music Department, performed “Spring” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” 

Juliana Leach ’24 reflected on the inauguration service: “President Hammond’s words today reflect the wisdom and faith we aspire to as students of Gordon College. Overall, Inauguration reminded me that as I pursue a higher education, I have wonderful role models—humble, faithful leaders who find ‘strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow’ in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.”

Attendees included former President Dr. D. Michael Lindsay and his wife, Rebecca. 

The Friday-morning ceremony was one of a number of events from Thursday, April 28 through Saturday, April 30.  

The first event to kick off the celebration was the Spring Pops Concert, held in the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at 7:30 PM on the evening of the 28th.  The college Orchestra, Symphonic Band, and Men’s and Women’s choirs performed pieces including selections form the musical “Oklahoma” and the soundtrack for the film version of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of  Narnia.”  Kwok was the violin soloist for an orchestra performance of Vivaldi’s “Spring.” 

Friday morning classes were canceled or shortened to allow all students and faculty to join staff and guests in attending the Service of Worship and Installation. 

Guests are scheduled to gather at the MacDonald Auditorium in the Ken Olsen Science Center at 3 p.m. Thursday  for a Symposium Panel titled “What Hath Athens to do With Jerusalem?: The Pursuit of Learning and the Christian Faith”. The panel is to be moderated by Dr. Jennifer Hevelone-Harper, Chair of the Department of History, and to feature Dr. Nathan Hatch, President Emeritus of Wake Forest University, Dr. Beth Schweiger, social and cultural historian of the early United States, and the newly inaugurated President Michael Hammond. The three panelists discussed the supposed paradox of Christian higher education as an institution dedicated both to the rational acquisition of knowledge and faith in a higher power – two ideas that seem incompatible but are truly complementary.  

Golden Goose, the final event of the 29th, is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Bennett Athletics Center. The comedy competition is an annual Gordon tradition wherein students compete against one another for the title of Golden Goose. This year, Executive vice president of Enrollment Dan Tymann and vice president of Student Life Dr. Jennifer Skaggs will be performing as hosts. Campus Events Council member and Gordon stand-up comedy champion Ellian Chalfant ’22 organized the show for its first return to a live audience since 2019. “CEC is so excited to finally have a live Golden Goose show after three years,” she said. “We hope this show will revive some of the laughter that went missing during the pandemic. With cabinet members on the cast, we know the show will be hilarious, celebratory, and most importantly, it’ll bring the Gordon community together.” 

The Inaugural weekend is scheduled to close with a Jazz Ensemble Concert in the A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel.  Jazz Ensemble Director Gerry Dolan stated, “I am most excited to share our music with a live audience for such a celebratory occasion, the Inauguration of Dr. Michael Hammond. After all that we have been through during the past two years, we are blessed to share this great American music.”

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