August 26, 2009

The University mace, symbolizing educational tradition and distinction, is positioned by Tony Massoud, chair of faculty, to begin Convocation 2009.

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By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, Pa. — With dusk descending on campus, faculty and staff paraded in full color regalia to the Weis Center for the Performing Arts where transfer students and some 925 members of the Class of 2013 were welcomed to the Bucknell University community during Convocation on Tuesday, marking the official opening of Bucknell's 164th academic year.

Provost Mick Smyer spoke during the ceremony about this community envisioning success at all levels for the new students.

"The Bucknell community starts with a clear vision of success for you and for itself," said Smyer. "And we know that you can live up to it - if your approach is thoughtful, imaginative and deliberate. We believe you have the talent, energy and drive to succeed."

Sobering message
He also delivered what he called a "sobering" message.

"Bucknell is a place that challenges you," he said. "Bucknell didn't become one of the finest liberal arts universities in the country by providing a learning environment in which students could coast. We assume you came here to succeed, which means you came here to work hard and do well in and out of class."

Smyer said the world is full of problems and the outcome of those problems depends on today's students.

"In the Bucknell community, we care and we ask you to remember that success, real success, the success that lasts, links your talents and concerns to the larger society," he said. "In this hall tonight are young men and women who will develop the solutions to some of the most interesting and vexing problems in the world. Those young men and women are you."

Profound cultural shifts
President Brian C. Mitchell said that since Bucknell was founded in 1846 the world had witnessed social and economic upheaval and profound cultural shifts and that the dawning of a new academic year is a reminder that history does not happen on its own.

"It is a product of ideas — of the ideas of the young men and women here today — and the ways in which we implement them," said Mitchell. "We need educated people to bring about change: to solve problems - the obvious ones being poverty, injustice, war and economic turmoil. We need well-informed, well-rounded people to think about these problems, to dream, to understand, to put forth solutions and to defy our imaginations."

Following the near hour-long ceremony, a kilted bag piper led students, faculty and staff in a procession to the Academic Quadrangle to participate in another Bucknell tradition — the class candlelighting ceremony during which President Mitchell and Kenneth Freeman, Class of '72 and chair of the Board of Trustees, passed a flame representing the Light of Knowledge to each of those circling the quad. The ceremony concluded with the singing of the alma mater, "Dear Bucknell."

In four years, the Class of 2013 will repeat the Academic Quadrangle ceremony the night before they graduate.

Contact: Division of Communications