Inauguration of William M. Tsutsui

Presidential Inauguration

Hendrix College celebrated the Inauguration of its 11th President on April 18, 2015, a day filled with equal parts of tradition, pageantry — and just plain fun.

Not many college leaders pick the day of their inauguration to run their first race.

But on the morning of his inauguration as the 11th President of Hendrix College, Bill Tsutsui, dressed in black and orange T-shirt, shorts, and running shoes, slogged through his first 5k alongside Hendrix alumni and students to raise money for Campus Kitty.

Not many colleges would honor the President of another institution with an on-campus ceremony the morning of a presidential inauguration.

But President Tsutsui, freshly showered following his 5k, presented University of Central Arkansas President Tom Courtway ’74 with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at the 2015 Alumni Association Awards.

Not many communities in the United States were courageous enough to bring attention to the experience of more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry relocated to internment centers during World War II. 

But Hendrix sponsored an on-campus exhibition of Japanese artist Henry Sugimoto’s work in 1943 and purchased Sugimoto’s painting “Arrival in Jerome” to display on campus. On the day before President Tsutsui’s inauguration, the College unveiled an interpretive plaque to tell the story of the artist and the internment experience. 

Not many colleges proudly display a large inflatable likeness of Godzilla on campus for alumni and friends to take informal smartphone photos (or #tsutselfie to be precise) with the President. Or serve a massive Godzilla-themed cake (made by a member of the on-campus dining services team) and cookies (made with a cookie cutter printed on the College’s 3-D printer) at the post-inauguration reception. 

But Hendrix did. 

On Saturday, April 18, 2015, Hendrix alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends celebrated the inauguration of President William M. Tsutsui. 

Like Tsutsui, the ceremony and events surrounding the inauguration were idiosyncratic and inspirational.

Following the procession of Hendrix faculty, delegates from institutions across the United States, and alumni representing Hendrix classes from as far back as 1937; following words of support from Bishop Gary E. Mueller, episcopal leader of the Arkansas Area of the United Methodist Church, Hendrix Provost Dr. Terri Bonebright, Board of Trustees Chair David Knight ’71, and Student Senate President Mimi Spjut ’16, and after thanking the community for its warm welcome to Hendrix, to Conway, and to Arkansas, President Tsutsui delivered his inaugural address, “Be Hendrix.”