OUR VIEW: An inauguration day that COVID could only pause

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, April 19, 2022

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The first time we interviewed Dr. Susanna Baxter was in 2020, and she had just taken over as president of LaGrange College. We don’t remember every question asked but we know the interview took place just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

We talked about keeping students safe on campus, remote learning, athletics, graduation — basically every pandemic-related question you can ask.

She came in at a time where everything we knew about educating students was changing. COVID-19 was surging at the time and LaGrange College, like the rest of us, was planning on a safe way to welcome students back to school, while also planning for outbreaks.

“I think that’s the most difficult part for me as a human, let alone a president, is just the uncertainty of this time,” Baxter said in July 2020 when we interviewed her.

“We all feel probably like we’re standing on sand. And you finally calibrate and then something changes. What I’m pleased with is what I’ve observed since July 1 is we’re able to recalibrate. We’ve got good people that are smart thinking it through.”

There wasn’t really a chance to celebrate her start as president. There wasn’t even a chance at that time to recognize the 2020 graduating class (though they were recognized the next year — a great gesture by LaGrange College.)

All of that got put on pause as Baxter, and the rest of the college administration put out “fires” caused by the pandemic.

All focus was on the then and now, and all that was required to ensure students were safe where they could learn and chase their dreams.

Now, two full years in, Baxter can finally be formally inaugurated. This Friday at 2 p.m. at Callaway Auditorium an official ceremony will be held — a long overdue one where Baxter can be celebrated.

We’re glad to have her in LaGrange and her leadership has shown through as she’s guided LaGrange College through some trying times.