The messages to new and returning are clear: Embrace Heidelberg University and the opportunities before you. Think outside the box and commit to service.
Heidelberg officially kicked off the 2011-12 academic year with Opening Convocation Tuesday (Aug. 30), welcoming new and returning students and faculty back to campus for what promises to be an excellent year of teaching and learning.
The Rev. Dr. Elaine McCoy, priest-in-charge at the Church of the Ascension in Lakewood, delivered the keynote address. “This convocation is about you,” she told the students gathered in Seiberling Gymnasium. “It is about your individual voice with your individual past and your individual struggles to get here today.”
“Very few of us have the opportunity you have at this university … to find out how to live your life of purpose with distinction.”
From her perspective, working in seven different professions including senior government policy making across the globe, McCoy said she has repeatedly encountered groups who want to “play it safe” and groups who want to “see the greater challenge to step outside the box” to resolve situations.
The key for students entering college, she said, is figuring out how to prepare to step outside. In that quest, Heidelberg students will learn from a liberal-arts curriculum that gives them tools to develop their intellect, critical thinking skills and attitudes of responsibility. “You will gain discipline. With discipline, you can come to the table with something of value. You can do something risky.”
“You will be faced in almost every situation at Heidelberg in life with a choice – a choice to live a life of purpose with distinction,” McCoy told the students. “It will be a risky choice. But if there’s nothing to risk and offer, then you’re not in the game.”
She added: “You will learn in this place to ask questions that don’t compute. That comes from you, from your own place, your own life. It’s the questions you ask – that no one else can ask – that will change everything.”
The students also were greeted by Provost Dr. David Weininger, who encouraged them “to embrace Heidelberg as we embrace you.”
President Rob Huntington shared some demographic information about the Class of 2015. Class members represent 19 states and eight countries. Fifteen percent are minorities and 25 percent are first-generation college students. They are better prepared academically and bring a unique set of talents, including owning a business, winning national athletic awards, serving as World War II enactors and Model U.N. participants.
“You will certainly make Heidelberg a better place,” said President Huntington, adding that he is energized by the start of the school year. “Heidelberg is about engagement. No one should be sitting on the sidelines of their passions and potential.”
“I love being part of this education community. It is a special place where we can learn and grow together.”
The president added that he and the members of the Class of 2015 have a shared goal: To meet on the same platform in four years to celebrate their graduation. “Hold tightly to that goal as we travel together,” he said.
As part of the convocation, returning students officially welcomed new and transfer students with a Heidelberg pin, symbolizing their entry into the Heidelberg community.