Grandillo inaugurated as 15th Lakeland College president


Dr. Michael Grandillo, 15th President of Lakeland College

Leah Ulatowski, Copy Editor

Although Dr. Michael A. Grandillo took office as Lakeland College’s 15th president back in July, one might say it wasn’t quite made official until his special inauguration ceremony on Monday, Oct. 15, complete with inspirational performances by the college’s concert band and choir, moving speeches, and the bestowing of the Lakeland College presidential medallion.

The event took place in the Woltzen gymnasium in the Todd Wehr Athletic center and boasted over 1,200 guests. The inaugural procession featured delegates from over 40 different colleges and universities, clergy from 10 United Church of Christ congregations, Lakeland faculty and staff, the board of trustees, and 58 alumni.

“The thing I’m most happy with is that it was a celebration of the institution,” said Grandillo of the event.

Following the presentation of the colors, the processional was led by commencement marshal Associate Professor of Biology Gregory Smith.

“I coordinated the setup of the Woltzen Gym and organized the 220 people who participated in the procession, ensuring they all had the proper academic regalia and processed in the right order. I also worked with Dr. Pettitt and Professor Herrick to incorporate the band and choir into the ceremony,” said Smith of the part he played in the event.

“I’m very excited for Dr. Grandillo’s presidency. I’m particularly excited about the process continual strategic planning that he is implementing,” Smith said. “I think the Lakeland community is most effective when the college’s goals are clearly defined, allowing us to work cooperatively.”

Smith was followed by the international flag bearers, of which consisted of 21 Lakeland international students carrying 13 different flags in representation of their home countries. They were followed by the honor marshals and then the alumni representatives, of whom ranged in age from Florence Shekoski (class of 1936) to SaraAnn Eskridge (class of 2012).

Two such alumni were Roland Rettig (class of 1961) and his former college roommate, Dr. Paul F. Koepke, an annuitant visitor of the pension board of the United Church of Christ.

“[Lakeland] is still family and you have good memories of people who supported and nurtured you; you had to do your end of the thing, but you know you’ve got a place you can come that’s where you belong,” said Koepke of Lakeland after the ceremony.

“That defines who you are,” added Rettig.

Koepke notes that the retired clergy and their spouses whom he visits in his home state of Indiana, many of whom are alumni, still harbor a respect for and an interest in the school. “This is not just a place where you come, get your degree and you’re out and the heck with the rest of the world; there’s always a bond,” Koepke said.

“I think that was kind of emphasized today in the ceremony,” said Rettig, “that [Lakeland] is family and church related. …One thing [Grandillo] wants to institute is contact with UCC churches, which is good.”

Both agreed it was wonderful to attend the ceremony. Koepke said, “Sometimes you have to look for an excuse to come back, and this was a pleasant excuse!”

Next in the processional came the United Church of Christ clergy, followed by the delegates from higher institutions of education. The next to emerge were Lakeland College’s faculty, staff, board of trustees, and honorary degree recipients.

Last of all was the platform party, of which included, amongst others, Lakeland College Chaplain Rev. Robert Sizemore, LC-CAB Vice President Braden Woods, President Emeritus Ohio Northern University Dr. DeBow Freed, and, most importantly, President Grandillo himself.

The invocation was led by Lakeland College’s Chaplain, Rev. Robert Sizemore.

“We thank you [God] for leading us from very humble beginnings to an institution responsible for educating men and women from all around your world,” prayed Sizemore at the ceremony. “And we thank you for leading Dr. and Mrs. Grandillo to this place to provide the clarity and courage we need to follow you to even greater things.”

“We don’t do pomp and circumstance very often in America. But once in a while it’s good for us to do our best to celebrate both the heritage and the future God has given us as well as the leaders who bring us to them,” said Sizemore after the ceremony. “Dr. Grandillo’s speech was a wonderful blend of inspiration and challenge. This has been an especially good day to be a Muskie!”

After the invocation, Lakeland College Trustee and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee Jeffrey Ottum welcomed the audience. This was followed by greetings to the president, of which consisted of speeches from the platform party welcoming Grandillo to Lakeland College.

President and CEO of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Dr. Rolf Wegenke delivered his greetings first. He was followed by LC-CAB Vice President Braden Woods, of who welcomed Grandillo on behalf of the students. Likewise, Professor of Business Administration Dr. J. Garland Schilcutt spoke on behalf of the Lakeland faculty and staff while alumni Kathie Powers (class of 1974) presented a passionate speech on behalf of the college’s alumnae.

Finally, President Emeritus of Ohio Northern University Dr. DeBow Freed, speaking on behalf of Grandillo’s former colleagues, delivered a speech that certainly attested to the strength of Grandillo’s character.

Another friend of Grandillo in attendance was his former priest Rev. James Say, of who presented the benediction. After the ceremony, Grandillo stated that the inclusion of Rev. Say was one of his only requirements in regard to the content of the ceremony.

The inclusion of the Lakeland College Concert Band and Choir was another inspirational addition to the ceremony.

Aside from moving the ceremony along with background instrumentals, the concert band also performed the National Anthem with student Kristal Klemme on vocals and the processional music Inauguration March: All Glory, Laud, and Honor, of which was written specifically for the event.

“The presidential inauguration was a fantastic event led by a team of talented Lakeland College faculty and staff,” said Director of Bands Dr. Russell Pettitt after the ceremony. “The Concert Band students and I were flattered to be a part of it, and thrilled that we could commission award-winning composer Kevin Walczyk to compose the processional music Inauguration March: All Glory, Laud, and Honor.”

Following the ceremony, Grandillo revealed that the musical piece is proudly framed in his office.

The concert choir also performed two musical selections during the ceremony, Come to the Water by John Foley and a moving rendition of This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, of which was arranged by Director of Choral Activities Janet Herrick and featured solos by students Fabian Qamar, Tricia Lutze, and Stephanie Wasmer. The choir also performed the college’s alma mater.

Grandillo later shared that his choice in music was partly inspired by the fact that his official announcement to the Lakeland community in July also marked the late singer Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday.

“Both pieces the Concert Choir sang were chosen by the Grandillos. Dr. Grandillo chose This Land is Your Land and Mrs. Grandillo chose the hymn arrangement, Come to the Water,” Herrick said after the ceremony. She also wanted to thank the faculty whom accompanied the concert choir, as well as the inaugural committees of whom “worked tirelessly to design an event that celebrated the best of Lakeland”.

One such hard working person was Director of Major Gifts Beth Borgen. “The planning committee was recruited in June, giving us about four months to plan the inauguration events. Our goal was to provide an opportunity for the college to showcase its identity–past, present and future,” said Borgen after the ceremony.

“The past was celebrated through the presence of institutional artifacts and tradition and a clear path for the college’s future was identified in Dr. Grandillo’s Presidential address,” said Borgen.

The event culminated with the presentation of one of these artifacts, the Presidential medallion, to Dr. Grandillo. One might say that Grandillo’s bowing to receive the medallion marked his official acceptance of the title and it was certainly the moment in which the entire campus community recognized him as their new leader.

The medallion itself was designed in 1974 by Edmund Worthman, a former member of Lakeland’s art faculty, and Grandillo said following the ceremony that it is kept in the campus safe.

The presentation of the medallion was followed by Grandillo’s moving presidential address, of which gave a nod to Lakeland’s past and detailed his plans for its future.

Following the ceremony, Grandillo revealed the first draft of the address was completed by Oct. 3. “It was an opportunity for me to lay out a vision for the school for the next five years. …It was a clear, purposeful, and intentional charge to everyone in the room and everyone watching from beyond to join me in this effort,” said Grandillo of his speech.

“To understand the institution and to understand where I hope to take the institution, and to understand what I was going to say in the inaugural address, was informed by the first three or four months I’ve been here,” Grandillo said.

In his address, Grandillo said of the college, “Here at Lakeland, the education we provide is a profound expression of who we are as a people. This is more than a college; it is a community — of faith, of family, and of shared purpose. As it is written, “to be learned is good if you hearken unto the councils of God,” and you do.”

The address also included his plans for Lakeland. “We will raise the academic public presence of Lakeland. We will celebrate our points of pride, and we will grow our enrollment in programs where we are distinct in the marketplace. We will seek to enhance our national status by competing with our peers and leading with the best practices in higher education today,” Grandillo said.

Grandillo also communicated his desire to nurture Lakeland’s connection with the UCC church, allocate resources to athletic programs, enhance Lakeland’s position as a contributor to regional economic development, and more.

“But none of this will happen unless we continue to give top priority to what it means to be a part of the Lakeland family,” Grandillo said, “unless we continue to believe that people of all ages deserve the opportunity to develop the knowledge and the skills, the wisdom and the faith to succeed in a world whose difficult challenges lead to truly great opportunities.”