Connecticut College opens academic year with 100th Convocation ceremony
Against the backdrop of a blue sky and the iconic view of Long Island Sound, Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron declared the 100th year of academic exercises officially open at Thursday’s Convocation ceremony on the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Green.
In a ceremony that paid homage to the College’s history and celebrated the “beautiful, verdant maze” of the liberal arts experience, Bergeron welcomed the 533 new students; 16 new professors, coaches and post-doctoral fellows; and 23 new staff members.
Bergeron’s centenary Convocation remarks reflected on the inaugural Convocation ceremony held Oct. 9, 1915, and the College’s first pioneering students and faculty members who were present that day.
“You can imagine the kind of commitment and zeal they brought to ensuring that this new progressive and inclusive community would grow and thrive into the future,” Bergeron said. “We are here because of them. And it is now our collective responsibility to carry their good work forward.”
True to tradition, members of the College community affirmed their commitment to the nearly 100-year-old Honor Code, reciting a pledge to uphold academic excellence and high community standards in every aspect of their lives.
Dean of the College and Tempel Professor of Chemistry Marc Zimmer gave the keynote address, “Amazing Mice Light Up the Liberal Arts.” Using science as a metaphor, he described a Connecticut College education as a “four-story, beautiful, verdant maze” that differs greatly from the South African system where he was first educated. Here, students don’t take a linear path to graduation. Instead, he said, they are challenged to design a four-year experience that combines many different elements and types of learning.
Zimmer, who works with fluorescent proteins, explained that scientists have found a way to use these glowing proteins to study brain activity in mice. When mice are placed in a simple box and given a straight path to food, he said, their brains show a baseline level of activity. But when they are placed in a maze, and have to make decisions and face challenges, their brains light up with activity.
As he wrapped up his metaphor, he turned to the College’s newest students and said, “Your brains are going to work.”
And, with that, Zimmer invited students to “Come on in and play with a language, dance with anthropology, dissect a religion and paint your way through a science. Make friends, find a mentor, enjoy your mind and seek out new intellectual experiences.”
It’s an invitation that encourages students to take full advantage of the innovative education that has been a hallmark of the Connecticut College mission since its founding days and today is defined as “putting the liberal arts into action in a global society.” As Bergeron reminded the students, this mission was very much on the mind of the College’s first president, Frederick Sykes, when he told that first class, “The good that counts is the good in action. Whatever you do, do it beautifully.”
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the Alma Mater, led by President Bergeron, and was followed by a community picnic on Chapel Green.
August 29, 2014
The Manchester Pipe Band leads the Convocation procession during a perfect late summer day.
President Katherine Bergeron shares a moment with a Connecticut College student.
Senior year has officially begun for the Class of 2015. Banner marshals Eleanor Hardy and Olivia Wilcox represent their classmates in the Convocation procession.
Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron declares the opening of the 2014-15 academic year.
Dean of Studies and Jean C. Tempel '65 Professor of Chemistry Marc Zimmer delivers his keynote address, "Amazing Mice Light Up the Liberal Arts."
The Class of 2018 attends the Convocation ceremony, featuring a welcome from President Bergeron and a keynote address from Dean Zimmer.
Students recite the Matriculation Pledge during Convocation.
Following the ceremony, students relax on Chapel Green during a campuswide picnic.
The campus picnic brings hundreds of students, faculty and staff members together to celebrate the new semester.
The picnic gives old friends a chance to catch up and new students the opportunity to get to know each other.