On October 25, a beautiful and bright autumn day, Andrew T. Hsu was inaugurated as the 23rd president of the College of Charleston. Under the Cistern Yard’s oak trees and adorning Spanish moss, President Hsu and more than 600 guests gathered to listen to a half-dozen noteworthy speakers provide him with well wishes for his presidency and the College.
But before President Hsu could deliver his inaugural address, a little pomp was in order. First, he shed the robe of his doctoral alma mater, Georgia Tech, for his new College of Charleston robe, as the song “Fanfare of Changes” served as the soundtrack. Then he was formally invested with the charge and symbols of his office. Transformation complete, President Hsu took to the lectern to speak about his background, CofC’s traditions and his high hopes for the College’s transformative future.
“We can be anything we want, but we cannot choose to do everything we want,” he said. “Wise and bold choices will have to be made – sometimes very difficult ones. But all of it will be in service to a greater good: a College of Charleston that provides one of the best educations anywhere in the world.”
Forward and Back
Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the College of Charleston
by Gary Jackson
It started with barracks refashioned to hold
students instead of soldiers. It started with water
to halt the fires the city could not yet extinguish.
It started with cornerstone, with brick
built by black hands who were not allowed
to enter the very halls they erected, not allowed
to sign their own names, except by fingerprints
in the bricks that adorn downtown markets and homes
along cobblestone and herringbone. We built
this college under Charleston’s eyes—
with her wreath and scepter, her promises
to defend us. Her words, Wisdom is liberty,
as people decided who was allowed to learn
and who was not. 250 years later
we’re still learning, still standing
through revolutions and wars,
hurricanes and floods, presidents
and educators shaping the future for all of us
who walk and sometimes stumble
on these paths well-worn from years of use.
Let us look forward, let the Spanish moss fall
as we trace our hands along the brick, mortar,
and stone that hold the bittersweet history
of our ancestors who built towards a better world
here, with all of us in it.
Gary Jackson is an associate professor in the Department of English.
I want to say thank you to my father, my late mother and my two sisters. Through a childhood filled with turmoil and hardship, their support, their guidance and their faith were my bedrock and fueled me to dream big. They gave me hope that my life could be anything I wanted it to be. To my late aunts and uncles and all my cousins who are in the audience, I want to say thank you for taking me in 40 years ago when I first arrived in the United States with just $26 in my pocket. All of my relatives went above and beyond to ensure that I received an education that would transform me and provide me with a chance for success in this great country. I am certain that had it not been for their sustaining faith and kind generosity, I would not be here today. – President Andrew Hsu
Gordon Gee’s Top 10 Perks of a University President
Gordon Gee is one of the most prominent university presidents in the country and served as a mentor to President Hsu. Gee is currently the president of West Virginia University.
1. Free parking.
2. You get to attend every single Faculty Senate meeting. Do you know how much the average person would give for that opportunity?
3. You get to live in a house with a name. “The Bishop Robert Smith House” sounds so much classier than just an address, doesn’t it? Being a pre-Revolutionary landmark doesn’t hurt, either.
4. If you are nice to him, Clyde the Cougar might dance with you. Admittedly, though, the West Virginia University Mountaineer will not let me touch
5. Your autograph is in high demand – at least, on diplomas at graduation time.
6. Through the College’s Bully Pulpit Series, you will probably get to meet many of our nation’s leading politicians – and everyone loves politicians.
7. You have constant access to Stono Preserve, where watching the birds surely provides a nice respite from the cuckoos and loons in the administration building.
8. You can fill your speeches with engineering-themed phrases like “building the future” and “blueprint for success” – no matter how tiresome they grow to your listeners.
9. You can bolster your hipness quotient with students just by releasing a study playlist that includes Weezer alongside Mozart.
10. And, finally, as a president, you will soon learn that the media hangs on every word you say. Trust me: There is no possible downside to
Today as I look to the future, I cannot help but be reminded of my past. I came to America dreaming of opportunity. I came full of hope and full of optimism. For me, my American education was what transformed my life. Because of my education, I am living my American dream. I want future College of Charleston students and alumni to have that same sense of transformation through their College of Charleston education, so that they may live their American dreams. In that spirit, let us work together. Let us set bold aspirations for our future. – President Andrew Hsu
Photos by Mike Ledford and Heather Moran