Arcadia Celebrates the New Academic Year with Pomp and Circumstance—and a Party

By Purnell T. Cropper | September 7, 2012

The 2012 University Convocation was standing room only, as more than 1,000 members of the Arcadia University community broke from their busy schedules to celebrate the new academic year on Aug. 28. Some filed into Kuch Alumni Gymnasium wearing formal academic garb, while others were clad in Orientation-themed gear or athletic wear. All together, the event was the perfect combination of party, pomp and circumstance. Photos.

Convocation included remarks from Board of Trustees Chair Margaret Wright Steele ’80, Provost Dr. Steve O. Michael, Faculty Council Chair Dr. Kathleen Mangione, Student Government Organization President Ekta Butala ’13 and Alumni Relations Director Kevin Brown. In addition, faculty and staff from around the world extended greetings to the Arcadia community in Glenside in a series of video messages. The Arcadia University Choir even performed a few songs.

In his opening statement, President Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III welcomed new students to a community where they will have the freedom to challenge accepted notions, explore the unknown and create new knowledge. And he implored everyone in attendance to define themselves by their actions in the coming year.

“Regardless of who you are—student, faculty or staff—whether you will truly succeed will depend on who you are, and whether you are centered. Each of us will define our self with almost every step we take. We will have many choices. Do not fail to see that one builds upon the other. Know yourself. Be true to yourself …. May each of us leave this ceremony true to our selves, ready to face the unknown, determined to do our best and willing to learn to be resilient,” said President Oxholm. “I am confident that together we will make this a truly great year in the already great history of Arcadia University.”

President Oxholm also presented the Class of 2016 Walk of Pride paver and challenged the class to beat the standing class participation record.

“When we [install this paver] on the Walk of Pride, I want you to be thinking about making your mark here–not just [by] putting your name here that people can walk on and you can see when you come back here 50 years from now for your reunion—but in everything you do from now on …. You can do it around the world. You can do it here. Make your mark for Arcadia University. It will define who you are and what we are. ”

President Oxholm is always a tough speaker to follow, but Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Josh Stern approached the podium to the sound of hoots and hollers, before sharing a “brief but personal” anecdote about his first college convocation. He recalled sitting through the classic “Look to Your Left, Then Look to Your Right” speech and finding himself shaking the hand of his new roommate, Jude, whom he pledged to “out-alpha” over the course of the year.

“Just as we were completing that handshake the dean ominously said, ‘One of the people sitting next to you won’t be here next year.’ Suddenly Jude’s hand went clammy in mine and he quickly broke our clasp. And he avoided eye contact with me for the remainder of the ceremony. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Ah-ha! This guy has some weaknesses.’”

What followed was the candid tale of a freshman grappling with insecurity, struggling to gain a foothold in his new home. “Don’t be like I was 25 years ago. Be more like my roommate Jude. While I was projecting an image of self-confidence and bravado, I was actually passive, non-committal, risk averse and just really, really scared. Jude recognized and owned his weaknesses and anxieties about university life, but he didn’t let them paralyze him the way I did.”

Stern concluded by encouraging students to fully immerse themselves in their studies and in their community. “Now start the academic year off right. Be present. Be positive. Be open-minded. Be creative. Be committed. And most importantly, be a proud member of this Arcadia family.”

Following the ceremony, the crowd moved out onto Haber Green for food, fellowship and lawn games.

Photos by Josh Blustein | Video by JoLynne Bremmer ’10 and Purnell T. Cropper