The 225th Convocation was held Tuesday, September 10, 2019 opening the new academic year at Union. First year students, assembled into their Minerva Houses, were led into Memorial Chapel by President David Harris and other Union professors, with it being the beginning of a new tradition of first year attendance.
With this being Harris’s first Convocation address following his inauguration event the previous year, Harris ensured that the College’s Strategic Plan was front and center. With many attendees sitting outside of Memorial Chapel, Harris mentioned the issues facing the College, including the cases of sexual assault that many colleges around the country are experiencing, with Harris commenting that “Union College is not immune.”
The event showcased the Union Community with speeches and performances from members such as the new College Marshall, Kathleen LoGiudice, who is the Chair of the Biology Department, Student Forum President Simon Bohn ’20 and a rendition of “Proud of Your Boy” from the movie “Aladdin,” by Hollander Prize recipient Raphael Kummer-Landau ’22.
One of the first year students in attendance, Paige Kent ’23, spoke to the Concordiensis about her experience at the Convocation, explaining that she believes in the importance of first years now being required to attend due to it “reinforcing the sense of community and solidarity at Union.” She went on to explain that being “directly addressed by the President” evidenced Union’s “emphasis on faculty-student interactions.” Kent believes that the event showed the “common goal” the Union community is working towards, being a part of a “prestigious group of individuals.” Kent continued by explaining her opinion that the event “created an environment of validity and made every new person in that room feel worthy of being there.”
The Convocation was followed by a campus-wide barbecue with students from all classes and faculty eating and conversing on the grass around the Nott Memorial in the pleasant weather. Many students took the opportunity to welcome back friends to campus and catch up on what they had gotten up to over the summer.
Union is celebrating 50 years of coeducation, and of faculty-led study abroad opportunities, along with the presentation of the final version of the Strategic Plan to the Board of Trustees.