The opening of the 2014-15 academic year – the 165th in Heidelberg’s history – was filled with tradition and inspiration as an incoming class of more than 400 were officially welcomed into the university family during Opening Convocation today.
Provost David Weininger welcomed all students and faculty returning to campus. “It’s great to have everyone back and watch the campus come back to life,” he said. One-third of the student body, he said, are new students who bring new interests, skills and perspective. “Because of you, Heidelberg is a different place.”
In his annual remarks, President Rob Huntington shared some demographics about the new class, which he called a “highly engaged and impressive” cohort that “brings richness, diversity and intellect to our community.” The new class includes 369 freshmen and 36 transfer students.
Some highlights of the composition of the class:
- 10 percent are from Heidelberg legacy families
- 11 percent are in the Honors Program
- 15 percent are minority students
- 19 percent are Heidelberg Scholars
- 20 percent are from out of state
- 24 percent are first-generation college students
- 41 percent are female; 59 percent are male
“And 100 percent are ready for success,” Huntington said. He also praised the academic quality of the class: the men have the second highest GPA and test scores in Heidelberg history and the women collectively have the highest. “So gentlemen, pay attention. You are surrounded by some very high-achieving and very intelligent women!”
As has been his message to past entering classes, the president encouraged the new students to get involved in their classes and on campus. “Heidelberg is all about engagement for our students. Do not sit on the sidelines of your passions or compromise the power of your potential while in college,” he said. “I encourage all freshmen and transfers to take full advantage of your exciting curricular and co-curricular choices at Heidelberg.”
The highlight of the convocation was an inspiring message by keynote speaker Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, the founder and CEO-president of the Student African American Brotherhood. SAAB, a national organization, looks to enhance the experiences of African American and Latino males from middle school to college.
Reflecting on his own life experiences, Bledsoe shared obstacles he overcame that led him to a high level of achievement that now involves service on the Gates Foundation and President Clinton’s Global Initiative of America to help the country strengthen its workforce. He knew Martin Luther King Jr. as a 7-year-old growing up in Mississippi and was the first in his family to attend college.
He has served in high-level administrative positions in the Student Affairs field at several universities, including as vice president for student life and special assistant to the president at the University of Toledo before creating SAAB.
Bledsoe’s mission now – based on his life-shaping experience with Dr. King – is “saving lives, salvaging dreams” through his SAAB organization.
As is tradition, the convocation concluded a pinning ceremony, during which upperclassmen presented new students with their official “H” pins.