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Inauguration at The Citadel: A Short History

The first inauguration at The Citadel was held for Gen. Mark W. Clark.

When The Citadel opened its gates in March 1843, Capt. William F. Graham was at the helm as superintendent. Graham only served one year and was succeeded by Maj. Richard W. Colcock, who served for eight years. It would not be until 1910 that the title of superintendent would be changed to president.

The length of presidential terms saw a significant increase with the installation of Col. Asbury Coward who served for 18 years. Following him was Col. Oliver J. Bond, the longest reigning president, who served 23 years. Gen. Charles P. Summerall, who succeeded Bond, came in next at 22 years.

The tradition holding an inauguration ceremony at The Citadel began with Gen. Mark W. Clark. A 1917 West Point graduate, Clark was a famed general who had commanded the Korean War and the Fifth Army in World War II. He was offered the position by South Carolina Gov. James F. Byrnes who sent him a telegram while he was in the Far East.

Clark’s inauguration took place on Corps Day, the annual celebration of the college’s beginning, with Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens serving as the honored guest and speaker. An article by Wayne Freeman in The Piedmont from March 20, 1954, reads in part:

“The ceremony was, indeed, most impressive. Nicely planned and beautifully timed and executed for its simple military precision. When Cadet Corps Col. Henry Rothschild of Greenville, standing straight as a ramrod below the speaker’s stand in the great armory, shouted a short command, the academic procession filed in and the place was a colorful mixture of the somber black and bright colors of the academic robes, the gray of the cadet uniforms, the gray-green of the Marines, the tan of the Army, the blue of the Navy and the bright dresses of the lovely young women, guests of the cadets, who seemed strikingly numerous.”           

Clark served The Citadel for 11 years. In the years since, seven presidents have been inaugurated: Gen. Hugh P. Harris, Gen. James W. Duckett, Gen. George M. Seignious, Gen. James A. Grimsley, Gen. Claudius E. Watts and Gen. John S. Grinalds.*

The inauguration of Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, the 19th president of The Citadel, will take place April 21, 2006. A member of the class of 1973, he is the 10th Citadel graduate to assume the presidency.

*Although Adm. James B. Stockdale served as president for almost a year, there was no inaugural ceremony.

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