Saturday, dozens of alumnae, students and friends attended the inauguration for Wesleyan College President Ruth Austin Knox. She is a Thomson native, a Thomson High graduate and one of the colleges' own -- a 1975 graduate who majored in English.
Ms. Knox is the first alumna to become president in the college's history and the 12th member of her family to attend Wesleyan.
Wesleyan held a weekend of celebration for their president and Thomson native Ruth Knox.
"We have a strong tradition here at Wesleyan of women who looked beyond appearances to what is right and good," Ms. Knox said in her inauguration speech. "This is a wonderful place to be, and I'm honored to be here."
In her speech Saturday, Ms. Knox spoke about keeping Wesleyan both a women's college and Methodist-based in its teachings, creating learning centers of education, creative arts, science and math, and women's political justice issues. A new program will train women to be religious leaders.
Ms. Knox is the daughter of Ruth Hall Knox and the late Robert E. Knox. Her siblings include Andrew Knox, Thomson Mayor Robert E. Knox, Jr., and the late Mary McNeill, Ms. Knox's family attended the inauguration and expressed their delight in her accomplishments.
"We're awfully proud of her," Mayor Knox said. "She had an awful lot of support from all the elements of the university, that is the students, the faculty, the alumnae, the trustees. And it makes us awfully proud to see that she's done so much to help out her alma mater."
Wesleyan College, the first chartered college in the world to grant women degrees, opened in 1839. Affectionately known as Wesleyannes after they graduate, the women may not be related to Knox, but they all still consider her a sister.
"Our president understands what it means to be a Wesleyan student, and for that, we're eternally grateful," said Christine Antonette Saunders, a senior and president of the Student Government Association. "President Knox embodies everything that is wonderful about this school. ... She is an outstanding leader and one who has shown us there is nothing we cannot do."
Nan Maddux, who graduated from Wesleyan with Ms. Knox in 1975, said her classmates have always been close. But she said they will all probably be a little closer now with Ms. Knox as president.
"She truly understands the college and listens to the students and faculty," Ms. Maddux said. "She loves the college and that shows in what she does. ... If there was one person from our class who we would have all said would be Wesleyan College president one day, it would have been Ruth."
Ms. Knox earned her juris doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law, and assumed the position of acting president on May 13, 2002. After a nation-wide search, she was elected president in January of last year.
McDuffie Mirror Staff Writer Kristopher Wells contributed to this story.