The inauguration ceremony, attended by more than 500 guests and delegates from other higher education institutions, was held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Baehre-Kolovani’s investiture by Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s community colleges, was preceded by an academic procession of TCC faculty and distinguished guests in colorful regalia – a tradition of presidential inaugurations.
The event was open to all faculty, staff, students and alumni. Those unable to attend participated by watching a live webstream shown on all four TCC campuses.
The inauguration is the first of several events that will be held in observance of the college’s 45th anniversary. “I know that I have become part of a remarkable 45-year success story,” Baehre-Kolovani said. “I am humbled by the vision and the commitment to this college by its founders and of those who preceded me as president.”
TCC’s history dates to 1968, when the Beazley Foundation donated the former Frederick College site to the Commonwealth in order to establish a community college in South Hampton Roads. John Padgett, master of ceremonies and vice chair of the TCC College Board, noted, “What was once a small school has blossomed into one that covers all of South Hampton Roads with four campuses and six regional centers.”
Speakers representing faculty, staff, students, administrators and boards, such as the College Board and Educational Foundation Board, all brought words of welcome to the president. Jeff Dyckman, chair of the TCC Educational Foundation Board, said, “As Dr. Baehre-Kolovani goes forward, she will be faced with many challenges, but – working together with TCC’s boards, students, faculty and other stakeholders – we are certain that any challenges she is presented will be surmounted.”
In her inauguration speech, Baehre-Kolovani laid out some of those challenges. Since coming into office on July 9, she has led the development of TCC’s five-year strategic plan, a collaborative enterprise to advance the college’s mission.
In addition, Baehre-Kolovani is heading efforts to increase student services, develop new academic programs directly related to employment and increase student enrollment and success.
“I challenge us all, collectively and individually, to choose our destiny and to achieve a common vision, a common purpose and a common focus so that TCC’s next 45 years will be even more remarkable,” she said.
Her inaugural address also touched on a favorite theme: servant leadership. “The servant leader is sharply different from the person who decides to be a leader and not a servant first,” she said. “The servant leader pays attention to others’ needs and makes sure that their highest priorities are met. It has been said that American community colleges are the ‘Ellis Island of higher education,’ and thus their mission is just that – to serve the needs of those who came to our proverbial shores.”
Stuart Steiner, president emeritus of Genesee Community College in New York and a mentor and former colleague to Baehre-Kolovani, spoke about those very qualities, which led him to hire her as Genesee’s dean of community services.
“Edna was always looking for new challenges,” he said. “She not only had a passion for excellence in doing her job, but also for the students. She never lost sight of the fact that community colleges were about the students we served.”
DuBois presented Baehre-Kolovani with the gavel and medallion – both traditional symbols of leadership. He added his own: a blank journal reminding the president “that your success story is unwritten and without limits.”
A former colleague of Baehre-Kolovani’s at Genesee, DuBois lauded her for her work ethic and diligence in preparation. “Edna is a player you always want on your team,” he said. “She checks her ego at the door. When you ask her what is happening at the college, she always starts with ‘we.’ ”
A reception followed the formal proceedings. The vanilla cake with cherry frosting from Patti Cake of Moyock, N.C., was a tier of Baehre-Kolovani’s favorite books, which ranged from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to “Parzival” by Wolfram von Eschenbach. The TCC logo rested atop the layers.
The inauguration and continuing 45th anniversary events are supported through the generosity of presenting sponsor TowneBank; supporters Barnes & Noble at Tidewater Community College, Noah Enterprises, Inc., Sentara Healthcare and STIHL, Inc.; and Pilot Media Companies; the cities of Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach; Davenport & Company LLC; Damuth Trane; DIA, Inc.; LifeNet Health; Caliper, Inc.; Checkered Flag Motor Car Company; Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority; and these individuals: Patricia P. Craven, Dixie Dean Dickinson, LaVonne P. Ellis, Beverly Boone Harris, Michael J. Lombardo Sr., James N. Roberts, Felice A. Saks, Susan Stinson, Stanley D. Waraska; Dr. and Mrs. Edward Weisburg, and Capt. and Mrs. W.C. Wheaton.