Democracy and Education: Inauguration of Cristle Collins Judd Kicks Off Inaugural Year

president judd at the inaugural ceremony. photo courtesy of

president judd at the inaugural ceremony. photo courtesy of

On Oct. 6, Cristle Collins Judd was inaugurated as the 11th president of Sarah Lawrence College.  The inaugural festivities kicked off the night before with a showcase of undergraduate and graduate work in Heimbold.  Student filmmakers, scientists and singers were just a few among the myriad talents displayed at the event on the evening of the inauguration of President Judd.

Inauguration day began with a symposium on this year’s inauguration theme: Democracy and Education.  The panelists included Salamisha Tillet, Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; Daniel Weiss, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Martha Minow, Professor at Harvard Law School.  The panel discussed the junction points between democracy and education before answering student questions, which touched on issues ranging from public education’s restrictiveness  to the accessibility of higher education.  After the symposium, attendees were invited to lunch before the inaugural ceremony.

Delegates from over 60 Colleges, Universities, Learned Societies and Associations were the first to proceed into the ceremony to the music of the Cosmopolitan Brass Quintet.  Speakers at the ceremony included Sarah Lawrence students, faculty, and staff, as well as community representatives.  

Student Senate Chair, Shail Shukla (‘19), spoke on behalf of the undergraduate students.  “Speaking was kind of nerve wracking, but overall, I have a really good feeling about President Judd coming in and helping us grow,”  Shukla said.

After each speaker gave his or her greeting, President Judd was presented with the Sarah Lawrence Medallion and Charter by the college’s last two presidents, Michele Tolela Myers and Karen Lawrence.  

In her address, President Judd paid homage to the Democracy and Education theme the inaugural year has been given.  She stressed the importance of higher education –– and specifically the kind of individualized, artistic education offered at Sarah Lawrence –– while at the same time questioning its role in the world.

 “Are we prepared to change the odds?” Judd asked, touching on accessibility and other issues regarding higher education that she hopes to address as the new president.

After the final words of her address, the crowd erupted in applause as Cristle Collins Judd was officially announced as the President of Sarah Lawrence College.  A few attendees rose their “CCJ” picket signs in the air as the procession exited the tent to the melody of “Changing the Odds,”  which was composed specifically for the occasion.

While the Inauguration Ceremony ended at 4:00 PM on October 6, the festivities do not stop there.  The entire 2017-18 school year has been declared as the Inaugural Year.  Events planned to take place throughout will explore the year’s theme of Democracy and Education.      

But what is Democracy and Education?  The Sarah Lawrence website describes the theme.  John Dewey’s 1916 book, Democracy and Education, serves as the theme’s stimulus.  It prompts the Sarah Lawrence community to ask “What does ‘democracy and education’ mean in 2017?”  The series of events will address issues facing the United States and the world at large.  Lectures, film screenings and seminar discussions exploring the theme stretch through April.       

Just a few of the upcoming events in November are “Information Literacy” on the 10th and “An Evening with Jeff Fager,” the executive producer of 60 Minutes on the 14th.  While some events are offered only to the Sarah Lawrence community, many are open to the public.  Students, nonetheless, are encouraged to attend any and all events that pique their interest.  

A full list of events with descriptions is available on the Sarah Lawrence College website (

Olivia Diulus '20