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Convocation Festivities Celebrate New Year

Read script of Randolph President John E. Klein's opening address

9/3/2008 1:51:34 PM

   

Randolph College President John E. Klein delivered the following speech during Convocation to a packed audience in Smith Hall Theatre on Sept. 2, 2008.

After serving as your president for the last year, I have realized that Convocation is the only time that I can address all students and faculty together. The word “convocation” means calling together. While we are all physically assembled here today, I would like to call us together in a more metaphysical sense and take advantage of this opportunity to set the tone for the upcoming year.

Many of us enjoyed watching the Beijing Olympic Games on television in August. It was beautiful, exciting and magical, symbolized by the Olympic torch. It is easy to become inspired by the Olympic ideal, where, as the now famous Visa commercial points out, for a few weeks, the entire world can come together, forget differences, and remember all the things that make us the same. The athletes that represent their home countries know well the benefit of hard work, of sacrifice and of the simple joy in being good at what you love. Years of constantly trying to improve and pushing themselves to the limit culminate in just a few moments in the spotlight. Some win medals and break world records, but all pass the Olympic torch on to the next generation. Individually, these athletes bring something special to the Olympic Games, but together they represent the best of all of us.

Today, as we sit together at the brink of a new academic year, I believe the ideals of the Olympic Games are a valuable metaphor for all of us. Whether we are students, faculty, or staff, each of us is responsible for our own inner flame. It is up to us whether we feed that flame and allow it to grow, and whether we embrace our passions and take risks by opening ourselves to new ideas and new worlds. It is up to us to shield that flame from those who would attempt to snuff it out, to carry it carefully during rocky times, to push and challenge ourselves to make it brighter and, most importantly, to share that light with the world.

As at the Olympics, our flames, our inner passions, are magical and bring us together.

This year is an exciting one for the College, and all of us play an important part in this next chapter. We have much work to do, but we also have much about which we can be proud. As with the Olympic athletes, individually, we bring something unique and special to this campus. But joined together, we represent the best of the world and this community.

Change is not always easy to accept, and transition sometimes takes time. Again, I am reminded of the Olympic Games. Every Olympics brings change, and sometimes the change brings controversy and is not readily accepted. This year, a new swim suit was introduced and caused a stir due to its revolutionary ability to increase swim times and by its high price tag. There was a time when beach volleyball was not considered a real sport and when gymnastics centered more heavily on artistic expression than explosive acrobatics. More recently, many are upset that softball, a relatively new sport in the Olympics, will not be back for the 2012 games. We have to remember that, over time, change takes hold and, in many cases, makes us better. Time makes it easier to accept different ideas and realize that sometimes new opportunities arise out of often feared changes.

College is all about change. The Class of 2009–the seniors here today– have just one year left as undergraduate students before launching a very different phase of their lives. The Class of 2012–our first-years– are embarking on a new adventure and, for many, living away from home for the first time. Sophomores are continuing their exploration in preparation for declaring their majors, and juniors are fully engaged in theirs. All of these experiences can be breathtaking, but we share them together, and today we join to celebrate the here a



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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations
434-947-8142