Although it’s one of Heidelberg’s many long-standing traditions, this fall’s Opening Convocation – the official beginning of the 2020-21 academic year – was like no other in history.
Like so many other events during the pandemic, Convocation shifted to virtual, presented to incoming students during their AIM Hei classes this morning and simultaneously during “watch parties” in Wickham Great Hall and Herbster Chapel.
President Rob Huntington officially welcomed a total of 346 new students this fall, including 325 first-time, first-year students in the Class of 2024. He noted the challenges that the pandemic has created. “This pandemic challenges us to become a stronger community,” he said. “Let us all be responsible for our semester and take care of each other.”
He had an important message to all students: “Get engaged and be intentional about everything. perhaps more than ever while staring down the health and economic challenges facing us, grab your Big Berg Opportunities to gain your Berg Life Advantages here.”
Here are some interesting demographics about the incoming class, which President Huntington called “an impressive group with many talents and interests.”
- 8 percent are from Tiffin and Seneca County
- 8 percent are from Heidelberg legacy families
- 13 percent are in the Honors Program
- 16 percent are from outside Ohio
- 16 percent enter with a 4.0 or higher GPA in high school
- 18 percent identify as underrepresented students
- 24 percent completed on scholars Days
- 48 percent are female
- 49 percent are first-generation college students
- 51 percent are male
- 62 percent are DIII student-athletes
- “And 100 percent of our new students want to engage and succeed here at Heidelberg,” President Huntington said.
A welcome 33 years in the making
Students also heard from Interim Provost Dr. Bryan Smith, who was in their exact position as a wide-eyed Heidelberg freshman. “Thirty-three years ago, I received my Heidelberg beanie at my Convocation at Heidelberg,” Dr. Smith said. “Like about half of you, I was also a first-generation college student.”
Although confronted with “a bit of culture shock,” he quickly acclimated, thanks to the same supportive campus community this current generation of ‘Berg students has just joined.
“Thank you for choosing Heidelberg,” he told them. “Be sure to take advantage of all of the opportunities the university has to offer you.”
The traditions continue
Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Chris Abrams spoke to the students about Heidelberg traditions, celebrated much in the same ways their own families celebrate traditions.
He explained the history of the beanie, which will become a treasured memento for most, and the Heidelberg “H” pin, which he encouraged them to wear proudly when they’re off campus. Students received both of those Heidelberg items as part of Convocation.
Those watching Convocation also heard inspiring and encouraging remarks from ’06 alumnus Patrick Turner, a political science major, who spoke to them from his home in Buffalo, New York. Student Senate JT Vaughan also officially welcomed the new students.
No event – live or remote – would be complete without a little entertainment. The Marching Band, currently in rehearsals, performed The National Anthem and Sweet Alma Home, the first of many times the students will hear Heidelberg’s alma mater. The Concert Choir also performed a virtual selection, Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Chaplain Paul Stark provided an opening blessing.