Allegheny Enters New Era: Hilary L. Link Inaugurated as College’s 22nd President
With students, faculty, staff, alumni and distinguished guests from across the country filling a blue-and-gold-adorned Raymond P. Shafer Auditorium, Hilary L. Link, Ph.D., was inaugurated on Friday, Oct. 18, as the 22nd president of Allegheny College.
Link is the first woman to hold the office at Allegheny in the College’s 204-year history.
Board of Trustees Chair Mary H. Feeley, Ph.D., a 1978 Allegheny graduate, formally installed Link, placing the symbolic presidential medal around her neck.
Recalling the inauguration of Allegheny’s founding president, Timothy Alden, Feeley said, “Since that first inauguration, the College has been led by individuals of integrity and passion — and, now, President Hilary Link embarks on a new chapter of leadership and service to this great College.
“Congratulations to the entire Allegheny community on this historic day and to President Hilary Link. I have no doubt that Hilary will carry on the best traditions of Allegheny and will create new traditions,” said Feeley. “I am honored to preside over the installation of a truly great leader who will lead us forward with determination and vision to create our shared future.”
In her inaugural address, Link shared her vision of an Allegheny College that will continue to be a leader in the highly competitive landscape of higher education and help its students to develop a sense of connectedness with a rapidly changing world.
Link credited her immersion into a number of languages for helping her gain new insight and perspective. In particular, her passion for the Italian language, literature, art and culture has defined not only her education and career, but also how she understands her place in the world, she said.
“As an interdisciplinary scholar of Italian literature and art, I am constantly toggling among multiple lenses onto the world,” she said. “I have come to understand that there is often more than one way to ‘see’ a topic, a challenge, or a human condition. My focus on the Italian Renaissance and in particular theories of artificial perspective have taught me in very broad terms that where you stand defines what you see.”
And, she added, if you “change where you stand, you change what you see.”
“To me, being secure enough in your knowledge base, beliefs and approach to the world and yet flexible enough and humble enough and respectful enough to try to understand someone else’s perspective, is what a true interdisciplinary liberal arts education can and should do. That is, in great part, why Allegheny matters more than ever in today’s national higher-education landscape,” Link told the audience.
“More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections that allow one to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways,” Link added. “A liberal arts education is about gaining the power and the wisdom, the generosity and the freedom to connect. … This sense of connection is ultimately what brought me to this role and to this gem of an institution.”
Distinguished Guests Offer Praise and Support
Link’s inauguration was attended by dozens of distinguished guests, among them members of the College’s Board of Trustees and delegates representing higher education institutions and organizations from across the country, including Barnard College, Dickinson College, Earlham College, Goucher College, the Great Lakes Colleges Association, Swarthmore College, Temple University and the University of Delaware. Former Allegheny presidents Daniel F. Sullivan, Ph.D., Richard J. Cook, Ph.D., and James H. Mullen, Jr., Ed.D., also attended.
Prior to the ceremony, trustees, delegates and other guests joined in an academic procession, representatives of Allegheny’s faculty, staff, and students, local government leaders, international flagbearers, Alumni Council members, and Torchbearers, who are Allegheny graduates from the classes of 1969 and earlier.
College Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell, Ph.D., offered the invocation, and several members of the ceremony’s platform party also shared remarks, greeting the new president on behalf of their constituencies. Among those addressing the ceremony were Andrew J. Walker, a 2000 Allegheny graduate and Meadville city manager; Melissa C. Mencotti, director of gift planning and recipient of the College’s 2012 Robert T. Sherman Distinguished Service Award; Gregory W. Ward, a 1994 Allegheny graduate and president of the Alumni Council; Jason B. Ferrante, an Allegheny senior and president of Allegheny Student Government, and Shannan L. Mattiace, Ph.D., professor of political science and international studies and recipient of the College’s 2019 Julian Ross Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Elizabeth D. Samet, Ph.D., professor of English at the United States Military Academy at West Point and who was a school classmate of Link’s, also addressed the gathering.
“My friendship with President Link … dates all the way back to the seventh grade. What’s more, it was forged among ancients, in Latin class,” Samet said. “As you have no doubt already discovered, President Link’s wonderful facility with languages is only one among many remarkable talents. At school, that particular aptitude set her apart, together with intellectual curiosity, agility and, most important given her ultimate vocation, generosity.”
The benediction was offered by Rabbi Leslie Y. Gutterman of Providence, Rhode Island.
Following the ceremony, members of the Allegheny and local community and other inauguration guests gathered for an all-campus celebration in the Henderson Campus Center lobby.
Link began her tenure as Allegheny’s president on July 1, 2019. She succeeded James H. Mullen, Jr., who became president emeritus after 11 years at the College.
Link has more than 20 years of experience across a broad range of institutions of higher learning, from large public and private universities to small private colleges. Prior to her arrival at Allegheny, Link served for six years as dean of Temple University Rome. As the senior Temple University administrator in Rome, she was responsible for all aspects of Temple Rome’s campus.
Prior to joining Temple, Link served as vice provost at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she had oversight of Barnard’s curriculum, international programs, academic assessment, faculty grants, and select academic initiatives. Previously, Link held the positions of assistant and associate provost and dean for international programs.
A transdisciplinary and globally oriented scholar of Italian art and literature, Link has a faculty appointment at Allegheny. She has taught at Temple University Rome, Barnard College, New York University, Columbia University and Yale University. She is a graduate of Stanford University, and earned her master’s degree and doctorate in Italian language and literature from Yale University.
Link and her spouse, Jeffrey Link, have three sons, Jason, Alexander and Zachary.