Keuka College’s newest students heard words of advice, encouragement, and support – albeit in a different format – as the College on Tuesday marked the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year with its annual Academic Convocation.
Traditionally, Keuka College freshmen gather in the College’ Norton Chapel for the annual curtain-raiser but, like much else both on campus and in the world at large, this year’s celebration was held online.
Freshmen and other new students – joined by upperclassmen, faculty, staff, and other members of the College community – heard from College Chaplain Eric Detar, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Brad Fuster, Associate Provost Dr. Tim Sellers, and Keuka College Board of Trustees Vice Chair Crystal Gips.
“‘Convocation’ means coming together,” said Ms. Gips, speaking to an online audience of more than 240. “We’re doing that today. Not only virtually, but in spirit. Today’s virtual Convocation is just one example of how the College has pivoted to do things differently since the world was turned upside-down six months ago. It also symbolizes the age-old academic tradition of the coming together of new students, faculty, staff, trustees, and administrators to officially celebrate the beginning of another academic year.”
The event marked more than a celebration, said Chaplain Detar, it represented students’ achievement in overcoming challenges en route to launching their college careers – especially this year.
“Every year, students overcome so much just to walk on this campus,” he said. “When you consider the last several months, it’s important to acknowledge what we have faced as individuals, as families, as communities, as a College, as a country, as a world. We have all been changed. While things may be different … opportunity is still here.”
Dr. Fuster agreed, adding that during unprecedented and incredibly challenging times, it’s important to be resilient, flexible, and mindful.
“For the first time in your life, you are in total control of your destiny—academically, socially, personally, and professionally,” he said. “Please make good choices. Go to your classes—all of them, all the time. Whether face-to-face, hybrid, or online. Show up and work hard! Instead of reaching for drugs or alcohol, reach out for help.”
That help is just a conversation away, advised Ms. Gips.
“You’ll be supported every step of the way by the Keuka College Community: Faculty, staff, classmates, student advisors, and a host of other champions and supporters who are rooting for you, and will do whatever it takes to ensure you succeed,” she said. “You’ll be challenged to expand your mind, sharpen your critical thinking, and enhance your understanding of the diverse and multicultural world in which we live.”
But the Class of 2024 has already proven it is equal to challenges, observed Dr. Sellers.
“We know you missed out of your high school graduation and your prom,” he says. “We know there’s a good chance you had to cancel plans for that summer vacation or job—or that it ended up looking a lot different than you anticipated. And despite all that, here you are. You’re pushing forward. You’re improving yourselves. You’re planning for the future. Class of 2024, you are amazing!”
The online format wasn’t the only change to this year’s Academic Convention:
-A humorous video of Drs. Fuster and Sellers racing to attend the ceremony served as a light-hearted and laugh-inducing introduction to the ceremony.
-A speech by the College’s 2019-20 Professor of the Year, traditionally a part of convocation, will be held separately. This year’s winner, Dr. Debra Dyer, professor of Early Childhood Education, will deliver her remarks during a stand-alone online event on Tuesday, Sept. 29, during Wolf Pause (12:30-1:30 p.m.).