Protestors arrived as the pipe band led the procession of Wooster’s esteemed guests. Photo by Paul Xing ’26

Julia Garrison

News Editor

In their regalia and all the Wooster gold money could buy, the board of trustees, the alumni board, faculty, academic delegates, the platform party and Wooster’s three former presidents followed the pipe band into the Gault Recreation Center on Saturday, Oct. 28. Wooster’s inauguration celebration, historically held in McGaw Chapel, was relocated to the Scot Center track this year. 

During this procession of greater community members, students arrived at the back of the track and lined the foyer – dressed in full black attire and holding signs silently. All protestors were wearing masks and hoods to conceal their identities.

Sally Staley ’78 opened the ceremony by welcoming guests, especially Grant Cornwell, Sarah Bolton and Wayne Webster to campus, thanking them for their service to the College. The invocation was given by Reverend David A. Rice, a trustee and head of staff at First Presbyterian Church of Wooster. 

Angela Triplett ’06, president of the Alumni Association, welcomed McCall and her future partnership with alumni. Gabe Tudor, superintendent and CEO of Wooster City Schools District, welcomed McCall to the greater community of Wooster and discussed the importance of the partnership between Wooster City Schools and the College. 

During Tudor’s speech, a protestor yelled out and the group began chants momentarily taking attention away from the speech. After quickly conferring with others on the stage as to whether he should continue or not, Tudor continued speaking over chants from protestors. Students chanted phrases including “Dean Reid’s gotta go” and “Dean Bobbitt’s gotta go.” 

Signs held by protestors referred to their demands: the need for a Black Cultural Space, a 360 review of all staff required to work with students and the request to reinstate Lillian Evans’s deanship. Others read “show us you care” and “respect us.” 

In an interview after inauguration, protestors explained that campus safety threatened to call the police instead of trying to defuse the situation themselves. “The fact that calling the police was their first jump too — they could have asked us to stop.” explained one protestor. “Why was calling the police your first instinct for black students?”

Following Tudor’s speech, Gilda Barabino, president at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, offered a greeting from the academy. “What the College of Wooster needs is embodied in Anne McCall,” she said, citing her past friendship with the president and the importance of her leadership.

McCall was presented with the key to Old Main by Scot Council President Jaylin Hudson ’23, Assistant Director of the Academic Resource Center Carly Jones and Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement Jennifer Bowen, who collaboratively retold the story of Old Main’s demise. The Wooster Chorus offered a break in between speeches, performing “I Was Love,” featuring soloist Bri Mosley ’24.

Preceded by an induction from Staley, President McCall gave her inaugural address. She drew from Wooster’s history, highlighting Wooster’s fight for knowledge in its early days of the teaching of evolution. She mentioned a history of firsts – emphasizing the first minority students at Wooster – and invited conversation and “free inquiry” from students. McCall included that as an institution, Wooster should strive to be “intellectually open-minded and institutionally steadfast.” McCall mentioned the Academic Program Review (APR) and the possible future inclusion of “graduate-level programs” in certain disciplines.

Rabbi and Professor of History Joan Friedman provided the closing benediction that brought an end to the entire ceremony. No speakers acknowledged or mentioned the protest happening simultaneous to inauguration. Representatives from the protest stood at exits handing out a list of demands to exiting attendees. 

“I believe in the right to protest,” explained President McCall in an interview with The Voice. “I was saddened that our top three Black administrators on campus were called out by name in such a public way … I found that extraordinarily sad.” 

McCall met with more concerned students at Monday’s Scot Council meeting and fielded more questions about students’ concerns surrounding the demands. “One of the things that surprised me as a newcomer was the speed with which it was expected that I would respond,” McCall explained, referring to the questioning for a response during Monday’s meeting. 

McCall stressed the need and want for open dialogue – explaining that she needs to be made aware of issues occurring across campus. McCall mentioned the introduction of a bi-weekly email sent from the Office of the President outlining the work that administrators are doing to better the campus. “It’s really very straight up kind of work that we do… so the more that we can communicate about it, the more it takes away from ‘what are these odd people doing in that different looking building over there?'”

McCall said she was unaware if any disciplinary action would be taken against the students who protested at inauguration. 

“I don’t understand why they’re not paying attention to what we’re saying about the school that we pay for,” a protestor explained. “We’re the reason behind your checks.” 

Dean Bobbitt sent a statement to The Voice that restated McCall’s sentiments relayed in her public email to the campus community. Dean Nuñez and Lillian Evans did not wish to comment on the issue for The Voice. Dean Reid did not respond to an inquiry sent by The Voice.

Written by

Julia Garrison

Julia Garrison is the News Editor for the Wooster Voice. From Morgantown, West Virginia, she is an English and Global Media and Digital Studies double major with a pathway in digital and visual storytelling. At Wooster, she covers administrative and faculty news. She also designs visuals for stories.