Washington College president inaugurated

September 17, 1995|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,Eastern Shore Bureau of The Sun

CHESTERTOWN -- Gray skies and a chilly breeze did not diminish the bright smiles and warm applause that ushered John Sampson Toll through his inauguration yesterday as the 25th president of Washington College.

The 71-year-old Princeton-educated physicist and former University of Maryland chancellor, known for his vigor and tenacity, wasted no time in getting down to business.

Starting with next fall's entering class, he announced, a new "Washington Scholars" program will provide $40,000 in financial aid over four years to each of 100 freshmen who are National Honor Society members in high school.

"We want students in the National Honor Society to know up front if they apply to Washington College, there's $40,000

waiting for them," he said shortly before the ceremony. The $10,000-a-year grant will move the private, 213-year-old college into financial competition with less costly state universities, he said. Tuition at Washington College is $16,040 a year.

Dr. Toll said the college chose the Honor Society members as recipients because the society's standards so closely match what the college seeks in applicants. The national group looks for leadership, character, service and scholarship, he said. About a quarter of this year's freshman class had National Honor Society membership; he said he hopes that number will rise to a third under the program.

Several hundred people attended the 3 p.m. outdoor ceremony during which Dr. Toll accepted the silver chain symbolizing the Washington College presidency.

Greetings to Dr. Toll were given in speeches by Patricia S. Florestano, the state's secretary of higher education; Shirley Strum Kenny, president of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where Dr. Toll was the first president; Morgan State University President Earl S. Richardson; Washington College Alumni Association President Edward M. Athey; student government President Elizabeth A. Likens and history Professor Nathan Smith.

The chain was draped over Dr. Toll's shoulders by former Washington College President Charles H. Trout, who said, "Congratulations, Johnny," as the dignitaries on the podium, faculty and the audience applauded.

"May God bless you real good in all the years ahead," said Louis L. Goldstein, one of the college's well-known graduates, longtime state comptroller and head of the college's Board of Visitors and Governors. He presided over yesterday's ceremony.

Dr. Toll's educational career has spanned several states and countries. For his inauguration, he wore an opulent velvet gown in green and gold, the robe of the University of Wroclaw in Poland, from which he holds an honorary doctorate.

"They give you the whole outfit!" he explained, adding that American institutions generally only confer a hood on their graduates. Dr. Toll also holds an honorary degree from a Chinese institution as well as four from American institutions.

He graduated from Yale in 1944, served in the Navy during World War II and earned a doctorate in physics from Princeton.

He first came to the Free State as an educator nearly 42 years ago, when he joined the University of Maryland faculty and chaired the Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 1965, he was appointed the first president of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he oversaw the school's expansion from 1,800 students to 17,000.

In 1978, he returned to Maryland as president of the state's university system and in 1988 he oversaw the merger of Maryland's two public multicampus systems to form the University of Maryland System.

He remained chancellor of that system until 1989, and continues chancellor emeritus. Last fall, Washington College named him acting president, and in the spring, invited him to become president.

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