September 2, 2022 | NEWS | By Emma McDermott | Photo by Emma McDermott
On Monday, August 29, the 149th academic year at Colorado College kicked off as L. Song Richardson was officially sworn in as the college’s 14th president. Held in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, Richardson was joined onstage by the Board of Trustees, previous presidents of CC, and student performers, among others.
Decorated with signature CC colors of black and gold, the venue was adorned with posters of Richardson, and a slideshow of her engaging with the college community played as guests, including professors from each department dressed in typical convocation attire, took their seats.
Among other rituals, the service featured musical performances, a land acknowledgement, an inaugural poem, and an introduction by Jeffrey Robinson, a friend of Richardson’s of over 20 years, who teased about knowing what the “L” stands for.
Delivering the oath of office, Chair of the Board of Trustees Jeff Keller described Richardson as “committed to the tradition of liberal arts learning.”
Upon being officially sworn in, Richardson was met with a standing ovation before addressing the audience. “I thought long and hard about how to encapsulate this thing that we do. This thing that makes us so unique and so very special. And what it comes down to is this,” she said. “Colorado College is a place that is willing to take bold action. A place that’s willing to take courageous action. To ignite our students’ potential in order to create a more just world.”
Richardson connected her past experiences as a teacher, scholar, and in the legal profession as a civil rights, criminal defense, and death penalty lawyer to her desire to come to CC. “I have always been willing to stand alone for what is just and what is right, even when, or especially when, it’s difficult,” she said. “But now I don’t have to because I found CC.”
During her inaugural speech, Richardson focused on three ideals she’s committed to seeing endure at CC: The Block Plan, antiracism, and sustainability.
Richardson is Black and Korean, making her the first woman of color to serve as president at CC.
Citing what drew her to the college, she mentioned the commitment CC made to antiracism five years ago. “We were the first college in the country to announce an antiracism commitment,” she said. “We did it long before it was the trendy thing to do.”
She also highlighted CC’s achievement of carbon neutrality two years ago, making the college the eighth institution in North America to do so, and committed to expanding access to the college. “CC will become a leader in educational access,” she said.
President Richardson also discussed CC’s role in the world at large. Acknowledging issues of climate change, the nation’s political climate, gaps in equity, and threats to the nation’s democracy, among others, Richardson said, “In the face of these challenges CC cannot remain complacent. There are just some battles that we simply must fight.”
Project 2024, which is guided by the question “How can we do what we do better?” is something Richardson is looking forward to continuing work on. The last time CC did something like this, which was 52 years ago, the college came up with the Block Plan.
She expressed how special CC students are, saying they think and learn differently and how that’s an asset to the world. “At CC, we’re humble. It’s nice to be humble,” Richardson said. “But the time for being humble has passed. We will no longer be a hidden gem.”
The inauguration took the place of the usual first Monday of Block 1 opening convocation ceremony. Students interested in attending had to pick up tickets beforehand, and others watched via livestream.
Michael Braithwaite ’24 watched the recording online. “I definitely think President Richardson did a good job with her speech,” he said. “She said all the correct things… I think she presented a really good face for the future of our college.”
President Richardson was not available for an interview before the deadline for this article.
Reiterating her commitment to the Block Plan, antiracism, and sustainability, President Richardson thanked former presidents of CC, faculty, students, and her family, some of whom were able to attend the ceremony. Crediting her parents as sources of courage, Richardson spoke of her “big and audacious goals” for CC.