Dr. Douglas N. Searcy was officially inaugurated as the 12th president of Barton College on Friday, April 15.
The installation ceremony was held outside on center campus, with over 700 people in attendance.
Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, said among those represented at the ceremony were Atlantic Christian and Barton College alumni, presidents and representatives from colleges and universities across North Carolina and the United States.
Student Government Association President Benjamin C. Rosolie, Class of 2017, signaled the start of the processional for the ceremony with the ringing of the Kinsey Bell, one of the formal symbols of the college. The bell pealed 12 times to honor each Barton president.
Presidents and representatives from 36 institutions of higher education, Atlantic Christian and Barton College alumni representatives from Class years 1950 through 2015, the Barton College Board of Trustees, Barton College faculty, undergraduate Class representatives and senior administrative officers participated in the ceremony’s processional.
Gregg A. DeMar, chair of the Barton College board of trustees, presided during the ceremony.
Many distinguished guests offered greetings to Searcy during the installation ceremony.
Barton College Trustee and Former N.C. Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., offered a message representing the state of North Carolina.
Mayor C. Bruce Rose offered greetings on behalf of the Wilson Community.
Cedric B. Rucker, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of student life at the University of Mary Washington, delivered a message on behalf of higher education.
Dr. Timothy M. James, associate general minister and administrative secretary of the national convocation, presented a message on behalf of the Disciples of Christ Christian Church with whom the college is affiliated.
Trustee Sheila B. Wiggins, Class of 1975, offered a message for the Barton College Board of Trustees.
Trustee and Barton College Alumni Association President Brenda H. Whaley, Class of 1998, spoke on behalf of the college alumni.
Senior faculty member and Dean of the School of Business Ronald E. Eggers represented the Barton College faculty and staff.
Representing the student body was Terrance L. Holloway, Class of 2017.
DeMar formally installed Searcy during a service of investiture and presented him with the Chain of Office and College Medallion.
Beth Searcy, wife of Searcy, and their children, Carter and Caroline, introduced Searcy prior to his inaugural address.
Their messages were humorous and heartfelt. Each of the three took turns sharing something about Searcy that they admired.
The Searcy’s shared a lot about the president’s achievements and his fatherly role.
Searcy’s daughter reminded the audience that he is her dad while he is being Barton’s president. She also assured the members of the Barton community that they will not be disappointed with her father’s leadership.
She said, “I just know that he has a heart for student learning and he has high expectations for how to do it well. So I promise you, you’re in good hands, as am I.”
Searcy’s son shared with the audience the power of “Team Searcy.” He said they all make decisions as a family and support each other 100 percent, but the quote ended with a chuckle and a bit of a twist.
“And by ‘decisions as a family,’ I mean mom and dad make the decisions and Caroline and I get on board as quickly as possible,” he said.
While showing support for her husband and listing some of Searcy’s academic achievements, Searcy’s wife shared what she called the most important thing that happened to him at the University of South Carolina.
“He ducted his graduate work at the University of South Carolina where we met. I personally think that’s the most significant thing that happened to him there,” she said. “…I turned to my roommate and said that’s the man I’m going to marry.”
Her response left the crowd in an uproar of laughter.
Before she introduced the president to the stage to present his inaugural address, Searcy’s wife delivered a message on behalf of the whole team—Team Searcy.
“When we arrived in Wilson last summer, we felt we were the right people at the right time, in the right place; he is, so by extension we are,” she said. “We have done our very best to embrace this community and invest ourselves in its success, because that is his heart’s desire.”
In Searcy’s inaugural address he presented 5 strategic plans that he will implement during his presidency. Number one, he said Barton will remain committed to academic excellence and student learning. Number two, he will aim to have a vibrant campus community. Number three, financial focus and emphasis on affordability will be executed. Number four, campus design and development will be implemented. Number five, growth in the Barton community will occur.
Along with his 5 strategic plans, Searcy presented a message entitled Barton Bold. He encouraged the Barton community to be bold in all aspects.
Searcy derived his message from Joshua 1:9, which says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Dawn M. Dillon, director of retention and first-year experience at William Peace University and Dr. R. Chad Merrill, vice president for general administration at Blue Ridge Community College, brought the ceremony’s invocation and benediction.
The Barton College Choir and the Barton College/Wilson Symphony Brass Ensemble provided music for the program.
A reception immediately followed the installation ceremony to provide an opportunity for the Searcy family to greet guests. Barton’s vocal ensemble group, the Bartonaires, performed at the event.
Later on Friday evening, an inauguration celebration (by reservation only) was held on campus.
Dr. Gary Daynes, provost, vice president for academic affairs and chair of inauguration steering committee, reflected on the inaugural events.
“The inauguration week demonstrated several components of Barton’s culture,” said Daynes. “It put student learning first, showed a warm sense of welcome to all, and highlighted the commitment to and love of the college that run throughout the faculty, staff, students, administrators, and friends of Barton College.”
By Taylor Baker