King’s Academy, July 12, 2006 – Surrounded by colleagues old and new, and cooled by a fresh Jordanian breeze, Dr. Eric Widmer was formally inducted as the founding headmaster of King’s Academy on July 12, 2006. His Majesty King Abdullah II attended the historic ceremony, joining 150 participants from King's Academy and His Majesty's alma maters Deerfield Academy and the Eaglebrook School in the courtyard of the Academy’s newly minted student union.
Just weeks before, His Majesty had spoken at the graduation ceremony of Deerfield Academy, where Dr. Widmer presided for the last time after 12 years at the helm of the 200-year-old New England boarding school. There, Dr. Widmer shared with the graduating seniors his gratitude for King Abdullah's joining them to share in his final days at the school. Now, on the King's Academy campus, the King was helping to usher him into a new era and a new beginning.
In addition to King Abdullah and Dr. Widmer, speakers at the induction ceremony included King's Academy Chairman Dr. Safwan Masri (who also inducted Dr. Widmer), Trustee George "Gig" Faux and Suzanne Hannay. Ms. Hannay had the distinction of helping to induct Dr. Widmer for a second time, as she presided at a similar ceremony in his honor twelve years before at Deerfield. "Someday," she told the audience, then and now, "when your children ask you 'What is history?' – tell them about tonight." Sharing in the headmaster's enthusiasm for King's Academy, Ms. Hannay and her husband John Palmer will be joining the Academy's teaching staff in the fall of 2007.
At Dr. Widmer's side, and a central organizer of both the ceremony and the full day of working sessions between Deerfield and King's faculty and staff that preceded it, was his wife Meera Viswanathan. In addition to her role helping to oversee the family life of King's Academy, Dr. Viswanathan (or "Ms. Viz," as students like to call her) will also join the faculty in August 2007 as the Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Distinguished Chair in the Theory and Practice of Knowledge.
Following the ceremony, the guests joined His Majesty for dinner served in the new student dining hall—following in the Deerfield tradition—at round tables.