David Leebron
President, Rice University

Greetings on Behalf of the Academy

It is my great privilege and honor to present greetings and congratulations on behalf of the colleges and universities of the world on the occasion of the installation of Cristle Collins Judd as the 11th president of Sarah Lawrence College.

We gather today for no ordinary occasion. It is no ordinary occasion for Sarah Lawrence, because the installation of a new leader is an important occasion for institutional reflection and renewal. It is certainly no ordinary occasion for Dr. Judd, for despite her experience in academic institutions, taking on the responsibility of institutional leadership is life changing. But when it comes to a path breaking and historic institution like Sarah Lawrence, it is indeed a momentous occasion for all of us.

Why is Sarah Lawrence important? It has set a standard for being different, for being an education innovator, for taking seriously its responsibility not only for educating students, but for creating new capacities, for fusing knowledge and possibility. It is a college that lives the ideal of faculty engagement transforming the lives of students.

David LeebronThis is no small ambition, and for this mission it could not have chosen a better leader than Cristle Collins Judd. I say this not only because Cristle Collins Judd is a graduate of Rice University. She brings to the task the intellectual depth of a scholar, the contextual understanding of a historian, the familiarity with the challenges of professional achievement of a musician, and the implementation and navigation skills of an academic leader. Her learning about the academic enterprise has taken place at an ideal range of institutions—at Rice, a comparatively small research university, at King’s College in London, then beginning her career in Australia, followed again by England at Exeter and then at the ivy-covered University of Pennsylvania and at Bowdoin College in Maine. If nothing else, she has experienced the full range of college weather, from Rice to Bowdoin, and latitudes from Melbourne, Australia to London, England. From the small town of Mineola, Texas, population 4,346, where she grew up to the great metropolises of London and now New York. This is the kind of intellect, breadth, and soul that a college of Sarah Lawrence’s ambitions requires.

There are over 4,000 institutions of higher education in the United States. All are different—sometimes in small details and sometimes fundamentally in our missions. But today, I speak for all of these institutions in conveying not merely our congratulations, but our support and enthusiasm for this new stage in Sarah Lawrence’s bold history.

We live in a time that is not easy for our institutions of higher education. Challenges abound on every front. Success will require fearless leaders and bold institutions. Those willing to break out of the mold and discover new possibilities will succeed when others falter.

Sarah Lawrence and its new president embody that boldness and fearlessness. We congratulate both on this great occasion, and express our warmest best wishes for their success.