On August 22, 2015, the College of Charleston officially welcomed the Class of 2019 and signaled the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year at the university’s annual convocation ceremony.
At the College, the meaning of “convocation” has expanded from its ecclesiastical roots to embrace the intellectual community as well. The occasion serves as the students’ introduction to a community of scholars and also emphasizes the value of a liberal arts education.
During the first portion of the convocation experience, the students participated in small-group discussions with faculty at various locations around campus. These discussions revolved around The College Reads! book selection: Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by Bruce Watson.
Following the group discussions, the new students passed through the arch of Porters Lodge and entered Cistern Yard. The tradition is a symbolic beginning to their college experience that will culminate in four years when the students return to Cistern Yard for Commencement before passing through Porters Lodge as alumni.
Students who assembled under the College’s iconic oak canopy at Convocation were serenaded by musical selections inspired by themes in The College Reads! book from the College’s concert choir and greeted warmly by College of Charleston President Glenn F. McConnell ’69. McConnell spoke to the students about his experience as an entering freshman 50 years ago. He stressed the importance of showing mutual respect to one another and encouraged students to make the most of their time in Charleston.
“My advice to you is to have a diverse College of Charleston experience,” he said. “Challenge yourself to try new things, get out of your comfort zone. Do not let your differences define and separate you from others. Instead, appreciate each other’s similarities and respect each other’s differences. Learn from the many types of people, cultures and viewpoints you will encounter at the College and beyond.”
At the conclusion of the events in Cistern Yard, the students added their names to the official class ledgers, joining a long and distinguished list of students who came before them.