On Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, Clarke opened its academic year with Convocation and Tree Planting Ceremonies. On this day, 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 their growth while here at Clarke.
The honorary speaker at Convocation is the winner of the Meneve Dunham Award for Excellence in Teaching. Evelyn Nadeau, Ph.D., Professor of Spanish, provided this year’s address. “Now, it can be tempting to try to recreate what you already know in this new land, instead of embracing the new, but that would be a mistake,” remarked Nadeau. “Yes, take the time to get your bearings, orient yourself, and then keep pushing onward. You know, you are among the lucky few in the world who get the chance to go to college. If the world were reduced to just 100 people, only seven of them would have a college degree. So, don’t waste this opportunity; don’t just rest in park in the garage for four years — take yourself out for a spin, find out all you can about yourself and the world, explore every inch of the territory before you settle in one spot, or perhaps several.”
Kyle Majerus, CSA Executive President and class of 2018, provided these words of wisdom, “You are at a completely new phase in your life, and you get to decide how you live it. Sure, you can act like the same person you were in high school or at your previous college … or, you can reinvent yourself and become the person who you have always wanted to be. The time is now to create a new you.”
Following the speeches and a performance by the Clarke Collegiate Singers, new students participated in the Tassel Ceremony. During this ceremony, the Transitions faculty presented incoming students with an official tassel, which is one component of the academic regalia they will don upon 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. As you officially begin this new phase of your lives, I encourage you to put this tassel in a special place, in your room, or on your bulletin board. I hope you will recognize it as a symbol of the goals you wish to accomplish during your time at Clarke.”
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, ’Saders for Life.
The festivities concluded with a delicious University-wide luncheon in the dining hall.