Opening Convocation at Hartwick: Welcoming the Newest Hawks

August 24, 2017

The Hartwick community gathered today 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 2017-18 academic year and the first full day for first-year and transfer students at Hartwick College.

Following a processional led by the Broome County Celtic Pipes and Drums, Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich P’12 officially opened the ceremony. Vice President for Enrollment Management Karen McGrath – along with Rosaria A. Siniscalchi ’20, Abigail J. Schwartz ’21 and Student Senate President Rachel E. Griffing ’18 – then presented the traditional Matriculation Book and more than 400 members of the incoming class to the Hartwick Community.

Drugovich offered reflections on the term “sensemaking,” how one absorbs vast amounts of information and analysis. After watching news reports, she asked new students, “Do you wonder how much you really know? Is it possible to have too much information and not really understand?”

She cited a book by Christian Madsbjerg on sensemaking in business, and how a company’s desire for more information didn’t always lead to the most accurate analysis. “We have become fixated by the promise of big data to answer every question,” she noted. “We increasingly make the mistake of believing that a close examination of trend data holds all truth.”

“Looking down one axis will tell us something, but likely not reveal the whole truth,” Drugovich added. “Rather, we need human context in order to truly understand challenges in business, international relations, economics, crime, politics, science, even social justice.” That, she said, is the new students’ distinct advantage, as their Hartwick education will expose then to courses in all these disciplines.

Drugovich closed by reminding students to ask why, not what, but why. “When you think critically and creatively – when you think about why – sensemaking begins and hope can be seen on our collective horizon,” she said.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael G. Tannenbaum P’14 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, and making time to explore 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 writes and speaks five languages, one who sang at Carnegie Hall, one wrote computer code for their Xbox, and one football player who was named All Conference player and led the state in tackles.

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

Griffing stressed the importance of asking for help during one’s journey at Hartwick. She noted that Hartwick students are supported by myriad faculty and staff eager to help – as they did for Griffing during her semester abroad – if students just reach out to them.

“There is no shame in asking questions and/or going in for extra assistance; it is encouraged,” she advised the new class. “In my opinion, asking questions and growing close to your professors is one of the easiest ways to succeed during your three or four years here.”

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 Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Andrew Pease and Matt Oram on trumpet; Stephanie Hollander on French horn; Paul Blake ’01 on trombone; and Ethan Cypress on bass trombone.

Professor of Economics Dr. Laurence J. Malone offered his thoughts on four words he encouraged new students to consider as they settle in at the College: crossroads, slates, choices, and quirky. Malone broke down the meaning of the words, putting each in a Hartwick context.

Carlie E. Doggette ’17 followed and shared her own experience in collaborating with Hartwick faculty, both within and without her areas of history and museum studies.

“You will meet professors who challenge or disagree with you,” she said. “Do not ignore the potential these relationships have to contribute to your growth as a student. These professors are providing you with an opportunity to stand your ground and advocate for what you believe in.”

Dean of Student Success Robin Diana welcomed the College’s newest students 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 “this planet called ‘Wick,” Diana encouraged students to let Hartwick staff assist them in taking advantage of the wealth of the College’s resources in order to “discover and achieve.”

Opening Convocation closed in Hartwick tradition, with the Hartwick Faculty Brass accompanying soprano Emily J. Barnes ’20 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.