Students learn about traditions and receive a warm welcome at Convocation.
Faculty members processed solemnly into Sorgenti Arena the afternoon of August 22, wearing full regalia, followed by first-year students wearing black commencement robes. After the day's hustle and bustle, the slow pace had a calming effect on everyone in the room. In this, the College's 90th anniversary year, everyone seems even more aware of the traditions in place here, and their importance.
In his opening remarks, Wolfgang Natter, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, spoke of the history of the tradition of Convocation and the wearing of regalia. He welcomed the students to their "journey of learning and discovery" and assured them and their parents that they are "joining a remarkable learning community."
Cecelia Cavanaugh, SSJ, Ph.D., dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, explained why CHC observes the wearing of regalia as part of its opening ritual as a way to mark the beginning of the students' academic careers, "and an outward sign of the warm welcome you get from Chestnut Hill College. This reminds us that weâ€™re part of a long tradition of teaching, learning and serving here," she said. "The power of this ritual resides in scholarly accomplishment, service and learning."
Sister Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., College president, continued the theme by remarking that special clothing is worn to mark special events and days in our lives, "This tells us something worth noticing is happening. Today marks a common venture on which you're embarking and a unity into which your class will grow," and at the same time, "diversity is encouraged and differences are honored." She also encouraged the students to be present to the next four years and grab every opportunity possible, while asking the parents to gauge the evolution of their children/students over that same time.
Mary Katherine Ortale '16, president of the Student Government Association and Roseann Quinn, SSJ, D.Min., assistant to the president for mission and ministry, encouraged the new students to embrace the College's mission and core values while relishing their time at CHC. "Know that fellow Griffins will always be by your side," said Ortale.
In an email later that week, Sister Carol praised everyone involved in the opening weekend and said this about Convocation: It is a "meaningful event at which we gather to celebrate our new students, reassure their parents of our commitment to excellence in education, recognize many of our returning students, acknowledge the contributions of staff over the summer and welcome faculty back to campus."
Opening weekend closed with an inspiring Sunday evening mass in Carlino Chapel — an excellent way to start the new academic year.