Ramapo celebrated a historic first during an inauguration ceremony dedicated to its fifth president Cindy Jebb, the first woman to be president of Ramapo College. State legislators, delegates from 35 different colleges and universities, a state senator, a former colleague from West Point, previous Ramapo presidents and the West Point Glee Club all joined the Ramapo community to witness her inauguration take place. The ceremony was also being live streamed so those unable to attend could witness it in real time.
The event took place on Oct. 14 in the Bradley Center, as part of the Oktoberfest celebration. The inauguration was followed by a gathering filled with food and music.
Vice President for Strategic Enrollment, Outreach & Engagement Christopher Romano acted as the MC for the event, introducing the various guests and speakers. After the Pledge of Allegiance, led by former Student Government Association (SGA) president Anjali Patel, and the national anthem sung by the Ramapo College CantaNOVA, the inauguration officially began.
Dwayne Perry, chief of the Ramapo Munsee Lenape Nation, was the speaker for the invocation.
“Let us remember that President Jebb has proven her mettle through hard work and diligence. Let integrity now be our badge of honor allowing Ramapo to wield the most powerful of effects: kindness,” he said during a prayer.
The event felt like a celebration of Jebb as a person and what she has accomplished in her professional life and at Ramapo so far. Representatives from the student body, staff, faculty, alumni and even colleagues from West Point all praised Jebb and recounted some stories about her.
Paolo Miyashiro Bedoya, the SGA president, referred to Jebb as a “phenomenal mentor.” As SGA president, he said he works closely with Jebb to make sure student voices are heard and that she is a great partner to SGA.
“In her first year, President Jebb quickly learned what it means to be a part of the RCNJ community and has embodied the Roadrunner spirit in everything she does,” he said.
Speaking on a personal note, he said Jebb has encouraged him to “be bold and push [himself] out of [his] comfort zone.” With her guidance, he said he was encouraged to submit an application for a Rhodes Scholarship.
Staff Association President Lisa Ambrose thanked Jebb for giving the staff “a voice and presence at such a historic event.” She, as well as Faculty Assembly President Kenneth McMurdy, focused on Cindy Jebb the person, not the president.
Ambrose thanked Jebb for her respect and commitment to the Ramapo staff and recalled a story from one of her first meetings with Jebb, where they were discussing what song to play at her first State of the College Address. Their discussion led to Van Halen and a debate between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. Ambrose said this was the first time she got to see a glimpse of Jebb as a person, and it set the tone for their future interactions.
McMurray shared that he got to know Jebb outside of a professional setting and was inspired by how much she thinks about leadership and her philosophy on it.
“It turns out that we are both runners and we’ve fallen into the habit of meeting at the track to run together a couple of mornings each week. What’s great about this time is that it’s totally unstructured and without agenda… It’s inspiring to me that she does not see herself as a finished product but rather someone who is on a journey continually learning to lead and working to improve as a leader,” he said.
The comments made by Major General Diana M. Holland, commander of the Mississippi Valley Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, were particularly touching because she and Jebb worked closely together at West Point.
Holland became the first woman to serve as the Commandant of Cadets in West Point history during the same time Jebb served as the dean. Their partnership marked the only time a woman served as both dean and commandant at West Point. Her remarks were reminiscent of an old friend remembering good times.
At the end of the ceremony, Jebb gave her official inaugural address and emphasized teamwork and community as a part of her message.
“Governor Murphy mentioned our coin,” she said in reference to Gov. Murphy’s video message for the inauguration. “On it, it says ‘Be bold, be kind, be good teammates.’ What this gathering represents is a team of teams over the years that share a great deal. I have been blessed to have inspiring teammates.”
Photo courtesy of Ramapo College.