More than 1,800 first-year and transfer students filled the Glazer Arena in the Athletics & Events Center on Monday morning for Ithaca College’s Convocation ceremony. The ceremony marked the beginning of the year for the Class of 2017.
For the first time, Convocation was held inside the A&E Center. The Glazer Arena hosted both the ceremony and the picnic that followed. The picnic traditionally takes place on the Campus Center quad, but was moved because of rain.
Even in a new space, the ceremony still began with the traditional processional of faculty, alumni and student speakers accompanied by the Ithaca Brass’s performance of Ludwig Maurer’s “Maestoso alla Marcia.”
Following the processional and the singing of the alma mater and national anthem, college Provost Marisa Kelly gave a welcome address that highlighted three elements she said were important to education at the college.
“Essential to [the Ithaca College] experience… there are three key educational principles at work: people learn best by doing, students are challenged when they move outside of their comfort zone and integrative learning is essential,” Kelly said.
After Kelly’s opening remarks, she introduced the video presentation “Ithaca College in Action,” which showed examples of advanced learning opportunities at the college. These included the Sustainability Case Competition, the London program and collaboration within the James J. Whalen School of Music.
Following the video presentation, Kelly introduced the recipients of the Faculty Excellence Awards. Each year, the college gives five awards to faculty members who demonstrate overall excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.
This year’s winners included Mark Fonder, professor of music education; Hormoz Movassaghi, professor of finance and international business; Gary Sforzo, professor of exercise and sport sciences; Michael Trotti, professor of history; and Gossa Tsegaye, assistant professor of media arts, sciences and studies.
Thomas Grape ’80, chair of the college’s board of trustees, then gave salutations. While acknowledging that all students will have different experiences, Grape emphasized the similarities between the time all students will spend at the college. He said college is a time that students will always remember.
“We’re here to welcome you and acknowledge this moment for what it is: the start of a chapter of your life that you will definitely remember,” Grape said. “You will all leave here with memories that will last a lifetime.”
Grape closed his speech by introducing Cedrick-Michael Simmons, president of the Student Government Association. Simmons used the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington as a historical backdrop to discuss the feeling of moving into the unknown.
“Like the 250,000 people who took the risk to be a part of such a powerful movement… we are all in this building anxious about the unknown time ahead,” Simmons said. “We are all in a space where our past can seem like an obstacle to overcome, yet we are focused and aware of the potential of the near future.”
Simmons concluded his address by reminding the new students that the college provides them with a strong support network.
“We are not perfect, but we have so many people, departments and organizations with a commitment to your success, and we need you to know that we are definitely here for you,” Simmons said. “This communal ethic and this space of progress will continue to strive if you too become committed and are here for us.”
Following Simmons’ speech, President Tom Rochon was introduced and discussed the new opportunities for the Class of 2017. Rochon explained the purpose of new innovations, including the Integrative Core Curriculum and first-year access to the IC Mentoring Network, which connects students with alumni working in their field of study.
“We’ve been giving steady and intensive thought to the question of how a four-year college education can utilize every part of a campus experience… to prepare you for fulfillment and success in a world that is changing at warp speed,” Rochon said. “We came up with some surprising out-of-the-box ideas that combine to create a model that other colleges will attempt to follow.”
During his speech, President Rochon told the incoming students about his experience at his own convocation. Rochon said most students don’t think about exactly how college will change their lives.
“College was, for me — and it will be for many of you — the next logical step in life. You might think of it as an extension of high school with a different living arrangement, but I was so wrong in that thinking,” Rochon said. “If you do college right, [and] if you take advantage of the opportunities there in front of you, then the coming years will be a time of profound shaping of who you are and who you will be as an adult.”
The ceremony ended with Kelly’s closing remarks. Kelly challenged the new students to expand their horizons and get everything they can out of their time at the college.
“Take full advantage of the wide range of educational opportunities, whether in a classroom, a residence hall, a lab or on an athletic field,” Kelly said. “Challenge yourself, go outside of your comfort zone and experience all that IC offers you.”