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Thomas H. Powell Inaugurated as President of Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary

Oct, 24, 2003 - Thomas H. Powell was inaugurated today as the 24th president of Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary, the oldest independent Catholic college in the country. The ceremony was held in the Athletic and Recreation Convention Center on the Mount campus.

An inaugural mass and luncheon were held earlier in the day, with close to 1,000 guests, students, and alumni gathered for the celebration. Dignitaries, leaders in the Catholic Church, alumni, and educators offered warm greetings to the new president. Powell accepted their congratulations and then presented his vision for the role of the college and seminary, emphasizing the importance of a Catholic liberal arts education.

According to Powell, “Catholic colleges, like Mount St. Mary’s, reinforce the fundamental nature of learning. Through our firm commitment to our faith and a liberal education, we teach our students to put their lives within the larger context of the human experience. At the Mount, we teach students to think clearly, argue with passion and conviction, respond to a changing world and to live a life of purpose.”

Powell also recognized nine Mount students who exemplify the words he uses to describe the Mount: Faith, Discovery, Leadership and Community, saying, “Four simple words remind us of our collective calling and promise. Holding ourselves accountable to the promise of these four simple words will help us continue to build a college of distinction.”

The official ceremony began with a colorful academic procession that included Mount faculty and more than 50 delegates from colleges, universities, and associations from around the country. The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes, United States Senator from Maryland, offered greetings to Powell on behalf of the State of Maryland, while The Honorable James Hoover, Mayor of Emmitsburg, praised the president for his already growing commitment to the Emmitsburg community. Parent, student, alumni, faculty, and staff representatives also welcomed the new president.

Following this series of greetings, Thomas G. O’Hara, Chair of the Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary Board of Trustees, led the investiture ceremony during which Powell was presented with the three traditional symbols of the Office of the President: the DuBois Crucifix, the Presidential Medallion and the Mace.

The DuBois Crucifix symbolizes the Mount’s vital role in preparing leaders to serve the Church; the Presidential Medallion represents the authority of the president; and the Mace recognizes the history and region of the school.

Powell then presented his inaugural address, ending with this eloquent appeal, “As we collectively build a college of distinction for a third century, let us pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on us.”

His Eminence William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore, closed the official inaugural ceremony with the benediction.

Prior to joining the Mount community, Powell served as the president of Glenville State College in Glenville, W. Va. He was also a professor of education and dean at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. (1994-99); and a professor of special education and dean at Montana State University (1990-1994).

Powell earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from Montana State University-Billings, in 1976 and 1979, respectively, and completed an Ed.D. in special education from Vanderbilt University in 1981. His academic concentrations included teacher education, family intervention, severe disabilities and educational technology.

Throughout his career, Powell has effectively maintained the balance between teaching and research. He has written four books, notably, Brothers and Sisters: A Special Part of Exceptional Families, and authored numerous book chapters and articles for scholarly publications. In addition to lecturing around the country, Powell is a frequent keynote speaker at professional conferences. He is also the founding director of the University of Connecticut Program for Disabilities, as well as the Sibling Information Network.

Powell and his wife, Irene, have three children: Nicholas, Thomas Henry and Cathleen.

In addition to his duties at the Mount, Powell is currently at work on a book for fathers of children with disabilities. It will be completed in 2004.

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