Yesterday the Guilford College community burst into celebration as the next President of the College, Dr. Jane Fernandes, was announced. After an inclusive and exceptionally open search effort, the campus community and far-flung alumni were anxious to know who would be living in Ragsdale House in July.
Jane will be Guilford’s first woman President, our ninth to serve the campus since the College was chartered in 1837. She will join the Guilford community as we celebrate the 40th year of Women’s Studies on campus.
Much is being made of our first female President, and rightly so. Guilford isn’t immune to the common barriers in higher education.
The second sentence of the College’s long-awaited announcement read, “Jane, who is deaf, will become the first woman to hold the post on July 1 when she succeeds Kent Chabotar.”
Twitter and Facebook echoed with “It’s a woman and she’s deaf.”
Both firsts. Her gender and her deafness have surely shaped her experiences and ideas, all making her Jane Fernandes, Guilford’s ninth President.
When Guilford’s current President was announced 12 years ago, it was noteworthy that Kent would be the first non-Quaker to lead the College. I don’t remember anyone saying “and he’s single and he has no children.” Those were firsts too.
There have been many good firsts since Kent took up residence at Ragsdale House, and I am grateful.
Welcome, Jane. I am one of many holding you in The Light as you begin your many firsts at Guilford.