The Class of 2022 walked through a ‘welcome chute’ of cheering faculty and staff into its 2018 Convocation ceremony on Aug. 27, which was hosted by Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado and her administration. This high–energy, celebratory welcome set the tone for the rest of the ceremony and, hopefully, instilled the notion in the freshmen that they will always have a support system lifting them up at the college in their journeys ahead.
The welcome chute strategy was also used at last year’s convocation ceremony, setting both of Collado’s convocations apart from those of prior presidents. In previous convocation ceremonies, the filing–in of students was more of a quiet affair. The festivities did not start until the faculty and staff procession completed — but now, the party starts as soon as students walk in the door. While the previous style may not have had a negative effect on the students, it could have potentially led to a lack of engagement or excitement among them.
At the ceremony, Collado also introduced the new students to 10 faculty and staff members they otherwise might not have known about, from departments like Public Safety and Emergency Management, Dining Services and the library. By doing this, Collado intentionally attempted to bridge the gap between students and some of the lesser-known staff on campus, demonstrating that staff at the college are are part of a community that wants students to succeed. This is an overall positive gesture, given that the college’s Spring 2017 climate survey indicated 57 percent of staff on campus had seriously considered leaving the college, and many had written responses that said they felt undervalued.
La Jerne Cornish, newly appointed provost and vice president of academic affairs, also spoke to the crowd about being new to the college herself, allowing incoming freshmen to relate to her unfamiliarity with the same college campus they are beginning to navigate themselves. David Lissy ’87, newly appointed chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, also spoke about his own first year at the college. In his speech, Lissy said that while he too felt apprehensive about his first year at the college, putting himself out there led to some of the best experiences of his life, like meeting his wife.
By demonstrating equal appreciation for all members of the campus community, and by honestly connecting with incoming freshmen, Collado and the other speakers established a welcoming, exciting environment for the Class of 2022 to dive into at the college. Collado made clear to incoming students that the college is overjoyed at their arrival and maybe nullified some new students’ fears or misconceptions of harsh professors or a distant administration.
Ultimately, entering a new space — especially in an academic setting — is a daunting experience for anyone. But by making the Convocation ceremony as welcoming as possible, the administration is making sure new students get off on the right foot. This will hopefully set a tone of enthusiasm and encourage involvement for the rest of the academic year — and for the rest of the new students’ time at the college.