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Clarke University’s Convocation Welcomes New Students

September 12, 2018
New students receive their tassels as part of the Convocation Ceremony.

The ceremonial start of the 175th year occurred on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, with Convocation and Tree Planting Ceremonies. On this day, all new students gathered to be formally welcomed by President Joanne Burrows, SC, Ph.D., and Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Burns, Ph.D. Remarks were given by the honorary speaker and the Clarke Student Association (CSA) Executive President. The event also included the Tassel Ceremony and planting of a class tree, which symbolizes student growth while here
at Clarke.

The honorary speaker at Convocation each fall is the winner of the Meneve Dunham Award for Excellence in Teaching. Jessica Teckemeyer, Associate Professor of Art, provided this year’s address. She encouraged students to eat a good breakfast, form new friendships, think critically, find a mission, avoid a narrow focus, stand for something, and “fail forward.”

Teckemeyer said, “College is a time of transformation. It is about trying new experiences to discover what is best for you. Now is the time to put yourself out there to develop the skills to create your life. Energy and motivation are crucial elements to being successful in most aspects of college.”

Sydney Eustice, Clarke Student Association President and class of 2018, provided these words of wisdom, “Today your class will plant a tree onto our beautiful campus. That tree symbolizes you. The tree will be planted into a brand-new environment and will acclimate itself to its new home. You will not see it overnight, but the tree will grow. Over the next four years you will all grow in so many ways. When you are a senior, you will look back and see how much you have matured and changed during your time here.”

The tradition of the Tassel Ceremony followed the speeches, music by the Clarke Collegiate Singers, and a prayer. Transitions faculty presented incoming students with an official tassel, which is one component of the academic regalia donned at Commencement. Tassels identify dedication and hard work as students advance toward their degrees.

Burns said to the students, “Humans use ceremonies as a means to mark significant moments in their lives. Today, we use the Tassel Ceremony to mark the significant moment whereby we officially welcome our new students into the Clarke University community. May this tassel remind you of your special place in our University community and inspire you to reach your goals.”

The Tree Planting Ceremony followed Convocation. Norm Freund, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, provided a history of tree planting. The freshmen planted their tree and the senior class named the tree they planted as freshmen, “A-tree-um.” The senior class tree is planted in front of the Wahlert Atrium and many seniors enjoy the Wahlert Atrium as a place to study and gather with friends.

The festivities concluded with a delicious University-wide luncheon in the dining hall.

Clarke University will celebrate 175 years of service throughout the 2018-19 academic year. Founded in 1843 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Clarke is located near the Mississippi River in the thriving city of Dubuque, Iowa. It is the only BVM university in the country.

Clarke is a Catholic, liberal arts and sciences university dedicated to preparing students who positively impact their workplace, family and community. Academic offerings include more than 40 undergraduate liberal arts and pre-professional programs, and six graduate degree programs.