With one step, 1,500 freshmen gathered on the quad Friday morning embarked on a four-year journey that AU president Neil Kerwin called “among the most important and exciting” of their lives.
Led by bagpipers, the students broke into laughter and applause as they began snaking their way toward Bender Arena as part of AU’s 84th annual Opening Convocation.
The processional is not unlike the one they’ll make in four years when the students trade their matching “class of 2013” ball caps for mortar boards and gowns to collect their diplomas.
“This is our first experience together as a class. We’re all being welcomed by the university and that’s exciting,” said freshman Lauren Hank of Quakertown, Pa.
Organized by residence hall, the students strolled down Massachusetts Avenue, through the Glover Gate and toward Bender Arena, where they were greeted by several hundred cheering faculty and staff. This was the first year for the processional into Bender.
Donning his academic regalia, Kerwin – who was joined on stage by several deans and key administrators – called the freshmen “alumni in training” who are preparing for a time when “you’ll put your knowledge to work for yourselves, your family, your community, and your world.”
“Today marks the beginning of that march,” he said.
The students were also addressed by Provost Scott Bass, Student Government president Andy MacCracken, and 2009 Scholar-Teacher of the Year Meike Meurs, who urged them to “be open, find your balance, and have a great year.”
Erin Fuller, vice president of the AU Alumni Association, wrapped up the program by encouraging the students to “explore this beautiful city” and make the most of the undergraduate experience.
“Enjoy this time when all things are truly possible.”
View photos of AU's 2009 Convocation.
Listen to President Neil Kerwin's 2009 Convocation address.