Presidential Inauguration Address

September 16, 2016

President Kim Schatzel delivered her official inauguration address during her installation ceremony as the 14th President of Towson University.

Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here on this historic day for Towson University.

First, I would like to thank Senator Ben Cardin for his kind words on behalf of the State of Maryland, as well as his wife and Towson University alumna, Myrna Cardin.

Myrna, your recent service to our amazing university—leading its Board of Visitors and co-chairing its 150th anniversary—has lifted your alma mater to new heights of success and recognition. Thank you for your friendship and for your unwavering support.

Chancellor Caret, thank you for your kind words and dedication to first-in-class higher education for Maryland and for your support of your favorite university—at least for today—Towson University.

Bob, I also want to thank you for the all important contributions you made to transforming TU into the remarkable institution it is today, while you led, with great distinction, as its dean, provost and 12th president.

Chair Brady, regents and representatives of the board and the University System of Maryland, thank you for your service and for your leadership. I also want to acknowledge former Regent David Kinkopf who chaired my presidential search. I am honored by your confidence in me to guide and lead this extraordinary institution toward its next 150 years and even greater success.  

Dr. Soistman and Ms. Fabian and all the members of the university’s boards, Visitors, Foundation and Alumni, as well as the senior leadership of the university and my colleagues—Provost Chandler, vice-presidents, deans, general counsel and director of athletics—thank you for your unwavering commitment to the success of Towson University and its community.

Thank you Dr. Ballengee, Dr.Jensen and Ms. James for bringing kind words of support and greetings from our faculty, staff and students who inspire me and humble me each and every day I serve as your president. 

Towson University faculty, I am ever grateful for your dedication to our university, our mission and our students. You have made this university great, and it is your talent and commitment to excellence that will lead us to even higher levels of accomplishment and recognition. 

Our staff, thank you for making this a most beautiful campus; leading in developing our students; supporting the faculty and their teaching, and creative and scholarly work; engaging our alumni and our greater community. Towson University is a great institution of higher education because of you.

Towson students, Towson Tigers, especially my Twitter and Instagram followers—you know who you are—I am so happy you are here today to celebrate with me. You are the reason I have the best job in the world. You are our future.

 Honorable guests; fellow University System presidents; esteemed colleagues in higher education public service, business and the greater community; my dear friends and family: I am honored to stand before you, join the legacy of presidents that brought this university to its place of regional and national importance, and celebrate this milestone in Towson University’s proud 150-year history.

 This day and this event, with all its traditions and ceremony, marks the beginning of a new leadership era for our university. I truly want this inauguration to be about this great and historic university—the fourth oldest in the University System of Maryland; the second largest in the state; the largest university in greater Baltimore, historically providing one in four of Maryland’s teachers, and today providing more of our state’s health care professionals than any other university in Maryland.

 With over 150,000 alumni and more than 95,000 living in Maryland, one of my great pleasures—each and every day—is to meet someone who is a graduate of Towson University or who has a child, sibling, in-law, parent, partner, spouse, cousin or co-worker who is a Towson University alumnus.

 I have quickly learned since I arrived on campus this past January that Towson University indeed “Matters Much to the Great State of Maryland.”

For me, for my family, this is also a very personal and profound day for all of us.

 I want to thank my husband and the first ‘guy’ of the university, Trevor Iles. Last Saturday Trevor and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. I am very thankful those rather large glasses I wore almost 40 years ago didn’t put him off when we first met.

 He has been by my side, as they say for better and for worse, throughout those more than 33 years, and it is his love and friendship that has meant the most to me throughout my life. Thanks, Trev.

 Trevor and I are blessed to have our children Matthew and Katie here today. Matt and Katie I am so so proud of each of you and so proud to be your mom. Four years ago we were also blessed when Matt married and brought our wonderful daughter-in-law, also named Katie, into our family. I love you all very much.

 I also want to thank our dear friends and family celebrating with us, who traveled from as close as Philadelphia, from Michigan, our home for over 30 years, and from Buckinghamshire, England, where Trevor was born and raised.

 And finally, I know that my mother and father, Betty and Herb Schatzel, would be proud as punch if they were here today. They always provided support and encouragement—especially my dad, who was a first feminist, even though he didn’t know it.

 I was the youngest in my family, the first girl to go to and graduate from college. And, as many have heard, my first job out of college was working for Ford Motor Company making Pintos in their Edison, New Jersey, assembly plant. In the jobs I have had and the leadership roles I have served in, I was usually the very first woman to hold the position.  

 That meant—too often—I was made to feel unwelcome. During my first days at Ford, my boss let me know that “it was unnatural for me to work in manufacturing and that I was indeed taking a job from a man that needed it to support his family.”  

 In those early years of work for me, the women’s rights movement was still emerging and as the Equal Rights Amendment passed Congress in 1972 and was sent to the states for ratification, I had an ERA button that I often wore to declare my sentiments.

 I was raised in the era of Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisolm. For those that do not know these women, I would advise—you should.

 Bella Abzug was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 19th District in the 1970’s. She was the first Jewish congresswoman and a founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Bella was known as a firebrand. And one of her most famous quotes, “The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes,” speaks to the plainness of her talk and the directness of her beliefs.


In 1968, Shirley Chisolm became the first African American woman elected to Congress and represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms. In 1972, almost 45 years ago, Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm became the first African American candidate for a major party’s nomination for president of the United States and the first woman to seek the Democratic nomination for president.

 As I said, for those of you who don’t know these women—you should.

 Today, we often think we are living in the most revolutionary and transformational of times as the constant flow of information about political and world events is at our finger tips, and instantly viral. 

 But the past, and leaders in our history like Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisolm, are also important to know.

 For Towson University, our past presidents and leaders guided this institution, built a strong foundation, and advanced its impact and importance, often during the world’s most profound events.  

 As I studied Towson University’s history and past leaders, I learned—to my absolute elation—that this was one leadership position where I would not be the first woman to hold it.

 Indeed four out of 13 Towson University leaders have been women, beginning with Sarah Richmond in 1909 and most recently with the beloved and admired President Loeschke.   

 I was indeed humbled as I learned about our past presidents and principals, all remarkable and accomplished leaders.

 Before women were even guaranteed the right to vote, Sarah Richmond became Towson University’s fourth and first woman leader. There was no University System of Maryland back then, no chancellor and no Board of Regents. Instead, Sarah Richmond reported directly to the Maryland General Assembly.


She was not new to Towson University. In fact, in 1866, she was the second student to enroll in the newly founded Maryland State Normal School—what Towson University was called when it was established 150 years ago—and she was a member of its very first graduating class.

 Sarah Richmond served our university as provost and president, and during that time, she set the vision and criteria for public education and teacher preparation for the State of Maryland.

 Without a doubt, her most significant accomplishment was her successful relocation of the Maryland State Normal School to the York Road campus, and the building of Newell Hall, the Power Plant and iconic Stephens Hall under her leadership. 


Preceded by Principals Newell, Prettyman and Ward, after Miss Richmond came further growth, achievement and recognition lead by principals and presidents named West, Tall, Weidefeld, Hawkins, Fisher, Smith, Perkins, Caret and Loeschke. Maryland State Normal School became Maryland State Teacher’s College, Towson State College, Towson State University and finally, in 1997, Towson University, as enrollment grew from dozens to today’s almost 23,000.

 Each of these visionaries and leaders, each of Towson University’s 13 presidents, brought their own experiences and priorities to this institution.

When it was founded in 1866 with just 11 students, who met in a building on Paca Street, Towson University was a small school with a very narrow focus.

 And over these 150 years, that small normal school has evolved, innovated and expanded into a one of the largest and one of the most thriving universities in Maryland as well as nationally. 

 Each of my extraordinary predecessors discovered not just what the university aspired to achieve at the time, but rather what our society, our community, needed from the institution and its graduates.

 We have closed a remarkable 150 years for Towson University and we have looked back and we have celebrated. It is my strong belief that Towson University is indeed positioned for a very bright future, building upon the last 150 years of enormous growth and achievement.

 So now it is our time.

 Our time—faculty, staff, students and alumni of Towson University—our time to lead and build the Towson University of the 21st century.

As Steve Jobs reminded us in his iconic 2005 Stanford commencement speech, “Our work fills a large part of our lives, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do great work.” 

So it is our time—together—to do great work for Towson University.

 It is our time to create a most diverse campus and university education that ensures everyone—inclusive of all races, ethnicities, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations and levels of able-ness—thrives here at Towson University. And, when our graduates leave this campus, they leave committed to eliminating intolerance and prejudice against others and committed to creating thriving inclusiveness wherever they go.

 In a global economy increasingly characterized by multiculturalism, Towson University graduates, who thrive and support others to thrive through inclusiveness, will leave our campus better prepared to lead and thus be advantaged in the world of work and graduate education.

Thriving inclusiveness will be a focus of the great work we will do.

 Earlier this year during town hall meetings across campus, faculty, staff and students always included statements about the great pride we as a university have in the success of our students and in our teaching excellence.

 Those thoughts were further validated and reinforced by the hundreds and hundreds of students I have talked with over the past 31 weeks. However, integrating technology and innovative pedagogy into our classrooms and our degree programs was described by many faculty as daunting.

 These ideas were also brought to me by the provost soon after my arrival on campus. He wisely advised that we have invested in classrooms and academic facilities but our investment in infrastructure and facilities to support the faculty in their teaching, and scholarly and creative work has not keep pace at all.

As a president who truly values the advice of her provost, I listened very carefully to his ideas as well as the ideas of the faculty about the need to build a better foundation for the future.

 It is our time to make that commitment and invest in the creation of a world-class Faculty Development Center that will include the Office of Academic Innovation and establish Towson University as a nationally recognized thought leader in advancing the development of faculty and its impact on teaching, and scholarly and creative excellence. It will be a focus of the great work we will do. 

 Over the past 31 weeks I have talked with many about the goal of a world-class career center here at TU.

 There is very little research—scholarly or practitioner based—that examines the constructs, processes and practices of career centers, career readiness and career preparation, despite ever-increasing attention and ever-increasing focus on those as outcomes of a university education.

 It is time for Towson University to take a leadership role in examining and advancing, what is now being termed, career education.

 What are the best practices and pedagogies to educate, develop and support students to effectively manage their career paths, not just as they move to their first job, but throughout their lives? 

 A world-class career center and Towson University’s establishing itself as a nationally recognized thought leader in career education will be an advantage to our students, be a lifetime resource and connection to our alumni, and serve as a means to make a strong connection between the business community of greater Baltimore and Maryland, and extend the already powerful impact Towson University has on the economic health and talent development of our state. 

 It will be a focus of the great work we will do.

 It is our time to bind Towson University ever more tightly to the future of greater Baltimore. We are the largest university in greater Baltimore—an anchor metropolitan institution for this region.  

But we must do more—achieve more. It is our time—not one student, one staff, one faculty—as an entire university community to devote ourselves to greater Baltimore and its future.

 We began this work this past spring when we launched the Baltimore-Towson University Platform, or BTU. In science, BTU represents a unit of work or power, and for our university, BTU is about elevating the work we are already doing with our over 150 partners throughout greater Baltimore;

giving the work we are already doing greater presence, purpose and priority; working with schools, community and cultural partners, as well as   focusing on businesses, from start-ups to multinationals.

I am an entrepreneur so those who create businesses and work to see them grow and prosper share a passion with me.

The Kaufmann Entrepreneurship Index ranks 40 cities on factors such as startup formation, high-growth companies and the number of start-ups that reach scale in 10 years. Greater Baltimore fell from number eight in 2015 to number 18 this past year.

Through the umbrella of BTU, the work of the TU Incubator, the work of our colleges, the work of our Division of Innovation and Applied Research, will be aimed at changing the downward trajectory of entrepreneurship in greater Baltimore and strengthening its economy and the lives of its citizens.

BTU will be a focus of the great work we will do.

Now is our time. 

Imagine Towson University as an internationally recognized leader in faculty development, teaching, research and creative excellence;

Imagine Towson University as a pioneering academic enterprise and thought leader in the emerging field of career education;

Imagine thriving inclusiveness as a hallmark of our campus and a Towson University education;

Imagine Towson University as a preeminent agent of change supporting greater Baltimore through BTU and being recognized as one of our nation’s greatest metropolitan universities.   

It is our time to grab onto the next 150 years and do great work for Towson University.

There is much much to be proud of at Towson University—and together we will make for even greater things ahead! Thank you!