By Brian Brink
Dr. Susan Traverso, President of Thiel College, singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” at Opening Convocation on Thursday, Aug. 30 summarizes what will be the theme, as she put it, of this year.
Opening Convocation took place during the newly instituted Common Hour and welcomed the freshman fully to campus. The Common Hour is a time on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. when no classes are scheduled. Tuesdays are meant for chapel and for clubs to meet and Thursdays are meant for various scheduled events.
It began with the academic procession, where freshmen were lead into Passavant Center by Jared Johnson, Faulty Marshal and Professor of English, and followed by the professors of the school. Rev. Jayne Thompson, Campus Pastor, then said the opening prayer, followed by Michael McKinney, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, who officially welcomed all in attendance to a new year at Thiel.
Terri Eddy, President of the Student Government Association, lead the freshmen in the Thiel College Pledge. The pledge, which all Thiel freshmen have said before can be summarized in its final line, “To all my mentors, I pledge my best efforts as a student and as a citizen, today and for all the days to come.”
Dr. Elizabeth Frombgen, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, then explained the tassels to every freshman before passing them out with the help of Dr. Traverso. During the presentation of the tassels an odd choice of pop music played in the background.
Dr. Traverso then welcomed everyone to a new year by explaining the “theme” of this academic year. She explained how last year was interfaith and this year’s is community building. She also explained that these themes aren’t planned, but a grown organically while deciding the path of every year.
She went on to speak about Fred Rogers, the beloved host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” which ran for 31 seasons and 912 episodes. This is when she sang the opening theme of the show. She also mentioned how Rogers was awarded his first honorary degree from Thiel College and has kept good relations with the Rogers family.
After the President’s Welcome, “Hail, Alma Mater” was sung by everyone in attendance being lead by the Thiel Choir. The convocation closed with a closing prayer by Rev. Thompson.
The ceremony was followed by a luncheon, provided by Thiel Administration and AVI Food Service for the entire campus in the front yard next to the HMSC, Howard Millar Student Center.