Board of Governors Chair David Nalker (left) congratulates
Dr. Washington following the investiture ceremony. BOG Vice Chair Leslie Baker
is pictured in the background.
[BECKLEY, W. VA.] Dr. L. Marshall Washington was inaugurated as the third president of River Community and Technical College in ceremonies at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center in Beckley, W. Va., on Saturday, Sept. 21.
The occasion was filled with ceremony and thoughtful comments from a broad spectrum of friends and associates of the man who will guide New River into its second decade of service to students in southeastern West Virginia.
Representatives of New River's Board of Governors, foundation advisory boards, faculty, staff and students pledged their support to the new leader.
Board of Governors Chair David Nalker of Lewisburg reflected the spirit of the day when he said, "Dr. Washington impressed the search committee with his intelligence, his foresight, his fierce love of learning, his humanity and his humility. The challenge of leading a multi-campus institution in a time of budget cuts, rising costs and a changing educational landscape is not for the faint of heart. However, I am confident that Dr. Washington is the right man to lead New River to a very bright future, and I thank him for accepting this challenge."
James Skidmore, chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, extended congratulations and support from the Council for Community and Technical College Education.
State and local political leaders offering greetings included Princeton Mayor Patricia Wilson, Summersville Mayor Robert Shafer, Delegate Linda Sumner and Kimberly Gross, representing Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Greetings from Senator Joe Manchin and Representative Nick Joe Rahall were read by Leslie Baker, vice chair of the New River Board of Governors.
The keynote speakers were two friends and mentors who have deeply influenced Washington's career. The first was Dr. John L. "Ski" Sygielski, president of Harrisburg Area Community College where Washington served before coming to New River. The second was Dr. Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George's Community College in Maryland, who also represented the Thomas Lakin Institute, which provides professional development opportunities for African-American administrators who aspire to be college presidents. Washington graduated from the Institute in 2012.
"We know you will serve these communities with distinction and honor," Sygielski stated, and then invited the New River community to "help him change destinies and lives."
Dukes noted that "It's a long journey to the presidency of a college. You prepare for it every day of your life. This is a man of faith who is committed to his family. He will be just as committed to you."
Following the formal investiture, during which Washington was presented the Chain of Office by Nalker, Washington delivered his inaugural address. He began by paying tribute to his parents, Nathaniel and Barbara Washington, who sat proudly on the front row during the ceremony. He also acknowledged his older sister, Natalie, and his younger brother, Nathan, who also were in attendance. He thanked his children Lauren, Ethan and Jordan for their support, and he lauded his wife Tonja for believing in him and "keeping it real" during their nearly 20 years of marriage.
In his address, Washington described the core values that were recently adopted to guide the college. Developed with input from throughout the college, the values focus on community, integrity, justice, service and scholarship.
Washington then outlined his vision for New River's future.
"Working together we will create a culture of trust and connectedness across the college community to promote well-being for all and success for students. Together we will build a culture of accountability, transparency, and innovation in academics, financial and student affairs. I place a high priority on cooperation, collaboration, fairness and teamwork. We will be accountable and follow through with all constituents of New River, be they employees, volunteers or students," Washington pledged.
New River Community and Technical College serves Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Summers and Webster Counties in West Virginia from five locations: Mercer County Campus (Princeton), Nicholas County Campus (Summersville), Beckley Campus, Greenbrier Valley Campus (Lewisburg) and the Advanced Technology Center (Ghent). Administrative offices are located in Beckley.