Although she routinely dresses in ceremonial robes and leads important academic ceremonies such as Convocation and Commencement, University Marshal Jill Kasle found herself tackling a new event this fall: the inauguration of University President Steven Knapp.
For more than 17 years, Kasle has served as University marshal, a largely ceremonial role that includes planning events and leading academic processions.
Planning inauguration has been an “enormous undertaking,” but Kasle said she found the planning was right on schedule.
The biggest issue for Kasle was the record-keeping. The academic procession at inauguration included 473 delegates from universities across the country. Those working on inauguration kept track of where the delegates were staying, what they were wearing and what the University planned to feed them.
Kasle also helped plan the week of events that emphasize different aspects of the University.
“Dr. Knapp made it very clear he wanted to emphasize things like research and community and alumni, the sort of lifelong learning of academic life. That’s why the week of events is set up,” Kasle said.
Kasle said she is actively involved in planning most of the major ceremonies at GW and that this year’s inauguration is one of many events she has helped to plan.
“I am in the design of events,” Kasle said. “I am in on these events from the beginning. I am not the kind of person who can just go on stage at the last minute and just let it happen.”
Kasle said that her role involves many different facets.
“I write the script and I rehearse the student participants and I help people write their remarks and so on,” Kasle said.
Vice President for Communications Mike Freedman said inauguration was about “energizing our current community on campus but also energizing our global community.”
Freedman said he was lucky to have skillful and knowledgeable people like Kasle working on inauguration.
“All that matters is what comes out of the box,” he said. “All the preparation in the world is good, but you have to execute it well.”
The group who planned inauguration started their work by reading a book on presidential inaugurations and looking at information on previous ceremonies from the archives.
Kasle went to her first meeting for the inauguration about two weeks after Knapp was selected as the next president of the University. Work on inauguration began in April.
The inaugural committee had a shorter time span to prepare for inauguration than it did with with former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s inauguration, Kasle added.
She also pointed out that Trachtenberg’s inauguration was a weekend of events unlike the week of events planned for Knapp’s inauguration.
“There is excitement and hope for a new administration,” she said. “People are certainly reflecting on the administration that has gone before and looking forward to the incremental building that goes on from administration to administration in a university.”
Kasle became University Marshal in 1989 when Dr. Bob Jones, the previous University marshal, stepped down.
Kasle was the first woman named University marshal at GW and pointed out that there are not many women marshals around the country.
Kasle said, “I thought it sounded like great fun.”