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President excited to get to work

The Honorable Sheila C. Bair

CHESTERTOWN — Washington College’s incoming president posted a video online this week in which she speaks about how excited she is to start her new job and how impressed she is with the institution and everyone associated with it.

Sheila Bair takes over Aug. 1 as the official replacement for Mitchell Reiss, who vacated the president’s office about a year ago to be the president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia. Jay Griswold, an emeritus member and former chairman of the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors, filled in as interim college president during the search for Reiss’ successor.

On Monday, June 15, Washington College posted a 51-second video greeting from Bair online. She said she wanted to take an early opportunity to say hello to the faculty, staff, alums and students.

“I’m really thrilled about the prospect of leading this great, historic, unique institution. And I can’t tell you how impressed I am so far of all the wonderful people I’ve met, the very constituents of Washington College,” Bair said.

Bair, who served as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from 2006 to 2011, was announced as the new college president May 6. She will be the first woman to serve as Washington College’s president.

“She understands our history, our mission, our values, and our potential. She also appreciates this beautiful Chesapeake Bay region and understands the importance of Chestertown and the College collaborating in ways that benefit our students and the community,” said H. Lawrence Culp Jr., chairman-elect of the Board of Visitors and Governors, in a statement last month announcing Bair’s selection.

When she was hired, Bair spoke about the need for leaders who “understand the social, ethical and economic consequences of their actions.” She said they need to appreciate the global environment — its historical and cultural context — and be committed to preserving the health and prosperity of future generations.

“That is the kind of education that Washington College has been providing to generations of students,” she said.

In her video greeting this week, Bair said she knows the Washington College’s faculty, staff and alumni are “all about the students,” just as she is. She said she will support and advocate for their work on behalf of the students.

“We want to give them the best liberal arts education in the country, if not in the world. We want to position them to be able to navigate and succeed in a very complex global community. So thank you for all the wonderful work you do,” she said.

The soon-to-be college president, who previously offered some comments at this year’s commencement ceremony as well, closed the video by saying she looks forward to starting work Aug. 1.

“Until then, farewell,” Bair said.

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