Piedmont holds inauguration ceremony for new president Hollingsworth
Surrounded by students, faculty, staff and board members, as well as family members and delegates from some 15 colleges and universities in the Southeast, Dr. Danny P. Hollingsworth was formally inaugurated as the 12th president of Piedmont College during a special service Oct. 14 at the college Chapel in Demorest.
Former Piedmont President Dr. W. Ray Cleere, Board Chairman Thomas A. “Gus” Arrendale, and Hollingsworth’s wife, Elizabeth, presented the new president with academic regalia and a medallion featuring the seal of the college to mark the transition to the new administration.
The ceremony was part of a two-day inauguration celebration, which included a keynote address by Dr. David Spence, president of the Southern Regional Education Board on Oct. 13; the inauguration in the chapel followed by a reception in the Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art in Demorest; and a Friday night concert by noted Steinway pianist Terry Lowry of Albany, Ga.
In his inaugural address, Dr. Hollingsworth recounted Piedmont’s beginnings as the J.S. Green Institute, founded in 1897 by local residents to provide higher education for their Appalachian sons and daughters. Hollingsworth said the inauguration “represents the public proclamation that we think Piedmont College is among the great institutions of America with a ceremony that dates back to the nation’s colonial colleges in the 17th century. It is a chance, for just a few moments, for the broader college community to return to the beginning, and to mentally compose the future.”
With college graduation rates a current topic of interest among national educators, Hollingsworth noted that there is a “difference in obtaining a college-level degree versus obtaining a college education.” Whether the courses are taught in a traditional classroom or online, “the knowledge can be delivered effectively in multiple ways,” he said. “It is the quality of teaching—expertise and dedication of the teachers—and the educational experience that are the important elements of life enhancement.”
“However, today I see even more of higher education focusing on the mathematical formula for the degree instead of the richer experience of a college education,” he said. “Please don’t misunderstand. I totally support degree completion initiatives that provide a high-quality educational experience. … Yet, I fear that in too many colleges and universities the mathematical formula is the exclusive objective; and quality teaching and student service takes a back seat to other endeavors,” he said.
Hollingsworth noted, “Most young college-age students need more of a developmental environment where they learn social interaction, time management, higher-order thinking that … involves developing complex judgmental skills such as critical thinking and abstract problem solving.”
At Piedmont, Hollingsworth said he envisioned “a culture that fosters a dialog among participants leading to critical thinking and analysis of global ideas and issues confronting society. It will be an environment in which an unparalleled learning experience occurs while focusing on the core disciplines of a liberal education. … While the perceived dominant educational environment will continue to be physically or technologically structured, a broader college educational experience occurs through living-learning communities, robust student activities, and sacred ceremonies.”
“So, I have a vision,” Hollingsworth said. “I’m adjusting its focus, and look forward to working with my colleagues on a plan. I’m confident that Piedmont has a bright and thriving future ahead.”
Hollingsworth comes to Piedmont with some 36 years experience in business and higher education. Before being named president, he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Carson-Newman College. He previously taught business and accounting at Mississippi State University, where he served as director of the School of Accountancy and was interim Dean of the College of Business and Industry. From 1987 to 2000, he taught at Baylor University, serving five years as chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Law.