Portrait of a President
By Laura J. Cole ’04 ’08MLS
President Emeritus Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H holds a significant place in Rollins history, having served the College for 12 years (1978-1990) as its 12th president. On May 7, 2009, nearly 20 years after his tenure came to a close, he was recognized for this service with the ceremonial unveiling of an official presidential portrait, created by renowned portrait artist and Seymour’s personal friend Everett Raymond Kinstler ’83H.
At the event, Seymour told the story of how the Rollins portrait “knitted together” his academic career. “When you’re in my line of work, it is common to have your portrait painted,” he said. “This one makes three for me.” He went on to explain that for his first portrait, painted in 1969 to commemorate his tenure as a dean at Dartmouth, he wore a Harris Tweed jacket he had purchased when he began teaching English in 1954. Twenty-four years later, in 1978, Seymour wore the same jacket when Kinstler was commissioned to paint a portrait of him commemorating his tenure as president of Wabash College.
“When Ray was asked to paint my portrait for Rollins, he wondered if I still had that old tweed jacket,” Seymour said. “I explained that tweed is not much worn in Florida, but ‘Yes, I do still wear it occasionally.’ He smiled and suggested I wear it for this portrait.”
As his portrait was revealed, Seymour, in true “Thad” fashion, removed the blue blazer he was wearing and replaced it with the historic Harris Tweed jacket (now accented with leather patches on the elbows). After the laughter and applause subsided, Seymour, donning the jacket that had journeyed 50-plus years through higher education with him, said of the portrait, “I love the setting, the campus with the Chapel tower at its heart, and I am deeply touched by this occasion. It is a great honor to join the gallery of distinguished Rollins presidents who have led and loved this college.”
Seymour continues to serve Rollins as professor of English and his presidential portrait has a permanent home in the Galloway Room in Mills Memorial Hall.