With two past presidents and many trustees on hand to usher him in, Michael J. Rounds was installed as Williamson’s 13th president during the 123rd Convocation on September 17.
On a sunny, but chilly morning, the day began with breakfast in the Sabia Garden followed by the guests attending lineup with the students. Facing the flags, standing in the front were President Rounds, former presidents Barry G. Schuler and Paul A. Reid, Eric Gardner, president of the Class of 1W4, and Matt Roy, president of the Class of 1W5.
The group then moved to the chapel where they heard opening remarks by Thomas Wisneski, vice president of education, who said “Our new president will take us to places we can’t imagine. We are marking the passage of 125 years since Isaiah V. Williamson founded the Williamson School. This is 125 years and thousands of young men who were sent out into the world to become useful and responsible members of society.”
As a community welcome, Bryan Messick, board chair of the Media Business Authority and assistant vice president of the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, said “Williamson is good to the community and gives back. We salute Williamson and its talented tradesmen.”
Barry Schuler, who was president from 1987-96, said he came to Williamson because he wanted to work at a post-secondary institution that was focused on vocational-technical education, used a disciplined approach, taught moral and ethical principles and pride in workmanship, and offered the opportunity to affirm Christian values. “I thought such an institution didn’t exist. But, my wife, Ruth, found an ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education announcing that Williamson was looking for a new president. I found it hard to believe such a school existed, but was pleasantly surprised to find it did. I stayed 10 years and it more than fulfilled my expectations. Now we are gathered to extend congratulations to Col. Mike Rounds and his wife Mary Nell. After my past two days on campus, I sense a widely felt assurance that President Rounds will bring his pleasant personality, steady leadership, and spiritual insight that will continue to make the Williamson School great.”
Paul Reid, who served as president from 1996-2009, quoted from the New Testament book of Ephesians that says that successful leadership is equipping and preparing others so that they may serve and the importance of serving is building up the body. “The major target of our service is the Williamson family and those touched by its members. The major need in the lives of this body is being equipped and prepared to serve — in the home, community, our organizations, and the world.” He said Williamson graduates are valuable because they have a servant’s heart. “They are willing to give themselves to prepare and equip those around them to help build a better world. We are all here sharing Mr. Williamson’s understanding of the Biblical principles of preparing, equipping, and serving. I have no doubt that President Rounds and Mary Nell will be equipping, preparing, and serving all of us for many years.”
Guy Gardner, who served as president from 2009-2013, was unable to attend, but his written statement was read by Wisneski. “Good morning! What an exciting occasion – celebrating both God’s providence in keeping Isaiah Williamson’s dream alive for the past 125 years, and His provision of an outstanding new president and first lady to lead Williamson into the future.”
After being introduced by Wayne Watson 4W8, board chairman, Michael Rounds addressed the audience saying, “I feel honored, privileged, and blessed to be the new president of the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades. Mary Nell and I are excited to be part of such a great mission and such a special group of people that accomplish that mission every day.”
He then introduced his parents who traveled from Minnesota to attend the installation, Gwen Thompson, who was his mother’s college roommate and “filled the role of my local mom the four years I was a cadet at West Point”; and Dr. Kip Nygren, president of the Wyoming Seminary in Wyoming, Pa.
He went on to say that after retiring from the Army he didn’t expect to find a place like West Point Prep. “What other place would have their students line up for formation first thing every morning and be inspected for their haircut, shave, and shoe shine? What other place would require students to clean their room every morning and penalize students who were late? What other place would require their students to spend their free time on the weekend paying back their debt to society for the grievous offenses of being late? Most importantly, what other place would talk about core values that included integrity, selfless service, respect, sacrifice, and honor? I didn’t expect to ever find another place like that — until I visited Williamson for the first time. I found all those things here — and even more! I discovered the West Point of trade schools!”
He said 125 years ago Isaiah Williamson saw the enormous potential in “the noble idea of creating a school to provide financially disadvantaged young men the opportunity to become productive and respected members of society by learning a trade. Many things about the school have changed over the years, but the mission and core values have remained the same. My challenge to everyone assembled here today is to ask you to join me in a renewed commitment to serve as we continue to advance Mr. Williamson’s noble vision. Mary Nell and I are excited and enthusiastic about the future of this unique and wonderful institution and look forward to working with all of you as we continue the great work of our predecessors and move this school forward into the future.”]]>