Presbyterian College inaugurated its 17th President, Dr. Claude C. Lilly, at 2:00 on Friday, April 19, in Belk Auditorium.
Presbyterian College’s Chairman of the Board, Patrick Phillips ’71, presided over the ceremony, which opened with PC’s 16th president, Dr. John Griffith, giving the Invocation. Dr. Griffith remarked that true leadership is not about watching and correcting but about listening and connecting.
Next, PC Professor of Music, Dr. James Porter Stokes II, lead those in attendance in “Lilly,” a hymn composed especially for the inauguration. Dr. Booker Ingram, Dana Professor of Political Science, followed with a passage of scripture from 1 Kings 3:5-12, recounting the wisdom imparted upon Solomon.
The president of Clinton’s Thornwell Home for Children, Reverend Elliot M. Smith, delivered the prayer, saying, “We give you thanks that Dr. Claude C. Lilly has been called to lead Presbyterian College as her seventeenth president … Bless him with wisdom and discernment throughout all the seasons of his service here, especially in those times and situations where there is a way that seems right and a way that is right.”
Representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups delivered their greetings and charges to Dr. Lilly.
Daniel Byron Verdin III, Senator of South Carolina District Number Nine, representing the state of South Carolina, charged Dr. Lilly with discovering what his unique imprint on Presbyterian College will be and fighting for it.
Emma Simms Reynolds ’13, President of the Student Government Association, representing the students, charged him with upholding the college’s values of family and community by getting to know the students on a personal level.
Henry Hart Cobb, Jr. ’69, president of the Alumni Association, representing the alumni, charged Dr. Lilly with helping the alumni to perpetuate that PC is a special place to many people, for many different reasons.
John Justin Brent, Ph.D., chair of Senior Faculty Council for the College of Arts and Sciences, representing the faculty, charged the president to uphold and preserve PC’s tradition of academic excellence grounded in the Christian faith.
Michael Grant LeFever ’69, president of South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, representing South Carolina’s 20 independent colleges and universities, charged Dr. Lilly to be a passionate advocate for higher education and the liberal arts and to represent PC and the greater higher education community with honor, dignity, and integrity.
And Edward Lane Alderman, Jr., D.Min., pastor of Roswell Presbyterian Church, representing the Presbyterian Church (USA), charged him with leading the PC family in discovering and living what it means to be a church-related institution in the twenty-first century.
The keynote speaker for the inauguration ceremony was Dr. James Woodward, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina Charlotte, who spoke of the many impressive characteristics of Claude Lilly. Dr. Woodward and Dr. Lilly worked together at UNC-Charlotte, where Dr. Woodward was chancellor and Dr. Lilly was an endowed professor.
William Shearer, former chair of the Presbyterian College Board of trustees, presented Claude Lilly for inauguration, and Mr. Phillips delivered the Oath of Office. A highlight of the event was President Lilly’s acceptance speech, “Each and All: Or, Each of us in part of the whole.”
Dr. Lilly started by thanking members of the PC family, specifically mentioning, “Billy Ardelt, who let me ride with him early one morning as he repaired a myriad of problems, and Ann Wilson, who maintains the Administration Building and is still working hard even on the nights when I am leaving late.”
His remarks focused on the three legs of Harold Seymour’s principles of leadership: keep faith with the past, keep step with the present, and keep commitments to the future. He discussed the legacy of PC’s founder, William Plumer Jacobs; he recognized all that the PC family has accomplished in the past nine months, including building a strong leadership team and launching a new website; and he presented a vision for PC’s future, to be a national recognized undergraduate liberal arts institution, with an outstanding niche graduate program by 2050.
The president reinforced his remarks with a passage from Colossians 3, in which the author indicates that we should act “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Dr. Lilly says, “Embracing this concept is how we build a realm in which we are each in all, each in one, each part of the Presbyterian College whole.”
Dr. Lilly closed by expressing his deep appreciation for the support of his wife, Fran. As a symbol of his appreciation, one rose for each year of her devoted support was presented to Mrs. Lilly during the President’s acceptance speech.
To close the inaugural ceremony, Dr. Jeri Perkins, Dean of Religious Life at PC, delivered the benediction, recounting the words of PC’s founder, William Plumer Jacobs, as he prayed at the beginning of Thornwell Orphanage, saying, “Father … I have ventured my all, my present, my future, all reputation, all honor, all advancement, Lord, it is for thy sake.”