Opening Convocation at Hartwick: Welcoming the Class of 2020

August 25, 2016

Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich at Opening Convocation 2016The Hartwick community gathered to welcome new students during this year’s Opening Convocation. The time-honored ceremony, held in Lambros Arena of Binder Physical Education Center, marks the official start of the 2016-17 academic year and the first full day for incoming freshman and transfer students at Hartwick College.

Following a processional led by the Broome County Celtic Pipes and Drums, Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich officially opened the ceremony. Vice President for Enrollment Management Karen McGrath – along with Hunter C. McRee ’20, Matipa Mutoti ’20 and Student Senate President Christopher Shaw ’17 – then presented the traditional Matriculation Book and all 450 members of the incoming class to the Hartwick Community.

Drugovich asked the newest Hawks, “What are you Hartwick College Matriculation Bookthinking?,” a common refrain from a past mentor, meant to help shape her goals and direction. She noted that she had been thinking frequently about the topic of change, what catalyzes change, what stops it, why it is important, and why students should embrace and not fear it. Drugovich noted that a recently read book on the Wright Brothers offered many lessons that parallel the myriad potential changes the incoming class could embrace.

“Maybe you want to make our world a more welcoming place, which may be one of the most daunting challenges of all,” she said. “Or maybe, much closer to home, you want the change to be within you – you want to make a fresh start, you want to re-center, you want to be more fully the person you know you are, even if it is not the person who you are known to be. I believe that you are able to do these things.”

In closing, Drugovich assured the newest Hawks that each of them “can be the agent of change you hope to be. Not through magic, or tricks, or just good luck. But rather through your persistent, thoughtful effort, and your confidence that you can make change for the better.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael G. Tannenbaum offered new students 10 pieces of advice for making the most of academic life. These included grasping the importance of motivation and follow-through, accepting that learning is not a spectator sport, treating college like a full-time job, getting an appropriate amount of sleep, and taking responsibility for one’s own academic success. Asking for help – which he emphasized was “not a sign of weakness” – realizing the importance of all majors at the College, making time to explore, and working hard to uncover your purpose are also vital, he said.

Most importantly, however, Tannenbaum cited taking pride in being a member of the Hartwick community.

Following these suggestions, he concluded, “you will be much more likely to build a firm foundation for the professional and personal successes for which you are hoping and dreaming.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Meg Nowak encouraged students to tap into the breadth of resources and opportunities found on campus. “Utilize our student services, make a difference in our residential communities, compete in intramurals, challenge the status quo through Student Senate, and make life active and exciting through planning and participating in campus activities,” she said.

Nowak also discussed the talent and ambition of the incoming class, citing its already strong record of co-curricular activities, which includes one student who has sung at the Grand Ole Opry, one who is a small business owner and started designing games in the 9th grade, and one who helped build a house for Habitat for Humanity.

After her remarks, Nowak led the crowd in a rousing chant of “Let’s Go Hawks!” before re-introducing Shaw.

Shaw noted the importance of his mother in his life, and asked all new students to give a round of applause to their parents. He noted that his mother even helped him quickly secure a Hartwick t-shirt from an alumnus via social media so he could boast of his future academic home at his high school’s College T-Shirt Day.

In securing that t-shirt, Shaw said it lead to a realization of the “circular flow” of a college. A new family getting excited for a college experience and someone who has been there to lend a hand,” he said. “That’s what I have come to know as the norm in this Hartwick Community, and I hope many of you find the same.”Professor of English Robert Bensen at Opening Convocation 2016

A musical interlude featuring Victor Ewald’s Brass Quintet No. 1, Op. 5 was next delivered by the Hartwick Faculty Brass, a quintet of Hartwick faculty, alumni, and friends. The ensemble included Instructor in Music Ben Aldridge and Assistant Professor of Music Andrew Pease on trumpet; Joshua Thompson on French horn; Paul Blake ’01 on trombone; and Ethan Cypress on bass trombone.

Professor of English Robert Bensen spoke of the power of names and words, focusing on one in particular: collaboration. He broke down its meaning, its roots and permutations. In placing the word in the context of Hartwick, he cited several examples of past Hartwick students who flourished through collaboration with faculty, and the important work they produced.

Senior Nathan Cole followed and shared his own experience in collaborating with Hartwick faculty.

“Get to know your professors, ask them for help when you need it,” he recommended. “Once they get to know you, they may ask you to work with them, giving you an invaluable opportunity that can further your future in whatever field you choose to pursue later on in life.”Hartwick College Class of 2020 after Opening Convocation 2016

Dean of Student Success Robin Diana welcomed the Class of 2020 to their “home away from home.” She recognized the breadth of questions students ask themselves at this watershed period in their lives. Now that they had arrived on “Planet Wick,” Diana encouraged students to let her and her staff assist them in taking advantage of the wealth of Hartwick’s resources in order to “discover and achieve.”

Opening Convocation closed in Hartwick tradition, with the Hartwick Faculty Brass accompanying mezzo sopranos Alison Battease ’18 and Krysten Robinson ’18 in a performance of the College’s alma mater, “Oyaron, Hill of Dreams.”

Following the ceremony, Hartwick’s newest students moved out to Elmore Field to pose for their class photo with President Drugovich and college Mascot, Swoop, after which they began to enjoy additional Welcome Weekend activities to mark the start of their new journey.