Bennington College inaugurates 10th president


BENNINGTON - Bennington College celebrated the inauguration of its 10th president, Dr. Mariko Silver, on Saturday in Greenwall Auditorium. Silver also used the weekend's events to announce a new partnership with the Bennington Museum and her dedication to making the college more of a part of the Bennington community.

The inauguration ceremony was introduced by Williams College President Adam Falk and Marlboro College President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell.

"Speaking for the five other women presidents in this state, we greet you and embrace you," McCulloch-Lovell said. "From just 40-some miles away from my hill of Marlboro College ... to your hill in North Bennington, we seek you to shout congratulations from your sister college."

McCulloch-Lovell, also the chair of the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, formally announced Silver's inauguration on behalf of 18 college president colleagues in the association.

Silver became president of Bennington College in July 2013. The college wanted to give her time to get to know the campus community, meet alumni and parents before the inauguration.

Faculty member Angel Brownell and college senior Bahar Baharloo brought up Silver for her inaugural address in ritual, which Baharloo explained is not customary of the college.

"At its groundbreaking in 1931, Bennington established a covenant of simplicity, brevity and dignity in its formal rituals, and hence we have not had any traditional symbols of office," Baharloo said, presenting to Silver a colorful, extravagant neck piece. "This medallion was designed for today, for Mariko: To represent the confidence and exuberance we feel as we invest in our new president. Inspired by President Silver's favorite flower, the peony, this pendant was crafted by Bennington College faculty and fabricated in our 3D printing studio."

After accepting the medallion, Silver announced her dedication to furthering the college's success in the liberal arts. She also extended her wish to connect the college better with the town of Bennington.

"We will build on the partnerships we have and forge new ones just beyond the gates and around the globe," Silver said. "Now, more than ever, we must bring Bennington to the world and the world to Bennington."

In closing, Silver pondered, "Why? Why Bennington? Why now?"

"Because today, more than ever before, the world needs institutions that match its creative restlessness that embrace the complexity and diversity of our planet," responded Silver. "That are focused not on the final shape of what the institution wants to be, but on the hope for the way the future can be."

Additionally, Silver declared her intent to make more college events open to the greater community. For a list of things going on at the college, visit

Contact Tom Momberg at Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg


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