Syracuse University 2014 Convocation for New Students


[ Music ] [ Applause, Cheering ]>>Chancellor Syverud, by
authorization of the Board of Trustees and the
university faculty, I now declare this convocation for new students
to be in session. [ Applause ]>>Will the audience
please be seated? Good morning. I’m Eric Spina, Vice
Chancellor and Provost at Syracuse University. On behalf of our entire
university community, it is my honor and privilege to
welcome all of our new students and their families to
Syracuse and to the start of what I know will
be an exciting and deeply fulfilling
academic adventure. I am sure these last several
days have been hectic for you. But amid the hustle and
bustle of traveling here and settling in, I hope you’ve
begun to familiarize yourself with your new campus
community and the people who make it such
a special place. Foremost among those people are
the more than 1,800 faculty, staff, and student peers who
have been working diligently and energetically to
extend their warmest welcome and a helping hand
during this transition. I particularly want to
acknowledge the student groups that worked so hard
these past few days. I ask them to stand as a
group as I call their names. The Goon Squad and Los
Colores move-in groups. [ Applause ] Peer advisors. [ Applause ] International peer assistants. [ Applause ] Resident advisors. [ Applause ] Orientation leaders. [ Applause ] And ESF student-to-student
mentors. Thank you all. [ Applause ] Whether you are a first-year
member of the Class of 2018 or ’19 or a transfer with, transfer with prior
college experience, you’re most likely feeling
both a little overwhelmed and excited right now. But as significant as this
transition is for you, it is every bit as much a
milestone for your families. So let me reassure them
right now, as a university, we recognize and
appreciate the profound trust that you are placing in us. We are deeply honored to assume
that trust and I promise you that your loved one will be in
very capable and caring hands. Students, at Syracuse University
you are joining an international community of scholars. You are from 54 countries, from
Bulgaria to China, and Venezuela to Australia; and from 44
states, from California to Connecticut, and
Minnesota to Maine. We take great pride in being
a university with great appeal to students from all around the
world because the rich diversity of perspectives and life
experience enhances the educational process
and inevitably leads us to a better understanding of
one another and of ourselves. Throughout your time here you’ll
be consistently challenged and inspired by outstanding
faculty who are not only
accomplished scholars, but dedicated teachers
and mentors. Our faculty have distinguished
themselves as MacArthur Fellows, members of the National
Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellows of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, as award-winning
writers, poets, artists, and performers. Yet they are here at Syracuse
because they believe deeply in the importance of
undergraduate education. And they will engage
you on multiple fronts, in the classroom, in
the research laboratory, in community work, and
in other activities that feed your passion
and advance your academic and professional goals. Would the faculty,
deans and members of the senior administrative
staff please stand to be recognized and
acknowledged as this time? [ Applause ] As you get to know your
teachers, I urge you to seek out a faculty mentor with whom
you can share your aspirations and goals. They can make all the difference
in the world to your education and to your future, a future that begins right
here, right now. We look forward to
your years at Syracuse and to celebrating
your successes. It is now my pleasure to
introduce our next speaker, P. J. Connell, President of the Undergraduate
Student Association at the State University
of New York, College of Environmental
Science and Forestry. [ Cheering ]>>Thank you, Vice Chancellor. First things first. I’m the realist. Greetings, parents, faculty,
staff, and students and allow me to say a word you’ve probably
heard more than any other over the past few days: welcome. You’re in for a great time. I’m going to be quite honest. I’m at somewhat of a
loss for things to say. Aside from the fact that
you’ve already heard from almost thousands of
different people on campus, when you are about to embark on
a journey as unique and powerful as all of you are,
there are very few words that can prepare you for it. That being said, I’m going
to throw my two cents in. I’ll start by doing
something all of you should. I want to thank Chancellor
Syverud and President Wheeler for already proving
their dedication to the continued
success and improvement of our respective institutions. Get used to thanking people,
for there’s no way to get through college without
a little help. It’s funny, actually. Last year I shared this platform with an almost completely
different group of people. It just goes to show how
much can happen in a year. For example, in the past year
alone American fell in love with a delightful little
snowman by the name of Olaf, we experienced the tenth
anniversary of the ending of a beloved sitcom by
the name of Friends, and Universal Studios delighted
Potter-heads everywhere by opening up a Diagon
Alley Theme Park. More seriously, federal and state governments
began a long-needed audit of sexual assault policies
on college campuses with mixed results, conflicts
erupted and continued to erupt in the Ukraine and
across the Middle East, and the Freedom Tower was
unveiled in New York City. What I’m getting at here is that college is a
roller coaster ride. I’m sure most of
you have been told that these next four
years are destined to be the best of your lives. Well, I’m here to tell
you you’ve been lied to. I’m here to tell you that these
next four years are whatever you make of them, literally
whatever you make of them. You could be whatever
you want to be here. You want to be a
Frisbee champion? Join the Ultimate Frisbee team. You want to be a lawyer? Test your skills with
the SU Debate Club. You want to hit people
with swords and level up? Then start LARPing. I’ll tell you firsthand that
if you were to go back in time and tell my past self that
he would one day be speaking on this platform for the second
time, he would have laughed and quickly retreated into
the comfort of his bowl of Cheetos while
re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of
Fire on his futon. Now, do I still have that futon? Yes. Do I still re-read Harry
Potter from time to time? Yes. But that’s not the point. The point is that college
is a chance to start over. It’s a clean slate. It’s a chance to become or to continue being the person
you’ve always wanted to be. I did it, and I haven’t
looked back. You can do it, too. I think I speak for most
upper-class students when I say that you learn more
about yourself in college than you thought
there was to learn. The time has come to sever ties with the many comforts
associated with home life and begin your journey
toward independence. For some of you that’s
more easily said than done, but the people and things
around you, your peers, your professors, staff, even
the very seats you are currently sitting on, are literally
oozing support for you. So take advantage of it. So now it’s up to
you to cut the cord. I’m afraid it’ll have to be
cut eventually, so it’s better to do it on your own terms
and jump out into the world. As a very wise woman once said. “It’s going down. I’m yelling timber.” Let’s go yell timber together. Thank you. I’d like to introduce — [ Applause, Cheering ] Thank you. Before I leave, I’d like
to introduce the President of SUNY-ESF, a wonderful man. Ladies and gentlemen,
SU students, and fellow ESF students,
please put your hands together for Dr. Quentin Wheeler. [ Applause ]>>Thank you, P. J. On
behalf of the College of Environmental Science
and Forestry, welcome to ESF and welcome to Syracuse
University. As part of this rare
assemblage of institutions of higher education on the hill, you are joining a unique
community of scholars and scientists, designers
and engineers, explorers and problem-solvers. If you do not yet know ESF, it is unique among American
colleges in its singular focus on the environment,
both natural and built, and on discovering
sustainable options for human prosperity
and well-being. There are fantastic
opportunities to explore the natural
world through our classes, organizations, field
stations, experimental forests and research projects. And Syracuse University is one of the nation’s great private
institutions of higher learning, offering a doorway
to the universe of human thought
and possibilities. Some lessons are timeless. Aristotle 2,000 years
ago said that the roots of education are bitter,
but the fruit is sweet. You will come to appreciate
the truth in his words over the next four years. And for nine centuries,
universities and colleges have been places
where new ideas are created, proven ideas are shared, and from where the leading
thinkers of tomorrow emerge. Universities are the best
reflection on our civilization, intellectual spaces where
all ideas are welcome, where diversity is not only
tolerated, but celebrated, and where we learn to debate
even the most difficult subjects with open minds. Your generation is inheriting
a set of challenges unlike any in human history, an
economy that is bruised but holds great potential; a
political landscape as polarized as it has ever been;
natural resources stretched to the breaking point; uncertain
implications of climate change; clear evidence of the coming of
a sixth mass extinction event, the last one being
65 million years ago; and a population growing faster than agriculture is
certain it can feed. It is time to recruit fresh
troops to the front of these and a hundred other battles. It’s been said that the optimist
is the man who says we live in the best of all
possible worlds and that the pessimist is the
man who’s afraid he’s right. Do not accept the limitations
my generation is passing to you. Rather, take the
knowledge we impart, the lessons we have learned,
and build upon, expand, amplify, modify, and reject
them as appropriate to build a better world. Seemingly insoluble problems
are not so much the result of too many obstacles, but
rather too little imagination. Given the right mix of
knowledge, ingenuity, sweat, and optimism, there are few
problems that cannot be solved and none that cannot
be made better. Find your dream, that thing
you are passionate about and whose pursuit
brings you fulfillment and joy, and go for it. Between these two great
institutions you will find all you need to succeed. I conclude with a quote
from Oscar Wilde who said that the world is a stage,
but the play is badly cast. Well, it’s time for the next
act, and I hope that fate and our admissions offices have
cast you in the right roles. Welcome to campus. [ Applause ]>>Good morning. My name is Boris Gresely, Student Association President
of the Class of 2015. Welcome fellow first-year
students and families. On behalf of the
Student Association and Orange Nation we welcome
you to Syracuse University. For the next four years you
will experience, cultivate, and be part of a new
and never-ending culture that values academic excellence,
diversity and a rich history. You will experience a
different environment surrounded with multiple opportunities,
the ability to meet new friends, make your own schedule,
and, most importantly, mature to become a well-educated
citizen and future role model. SU is a university that will
push each and every one of you to maximize your potential
through innovative ways to ensure a lasting
impact and positive future. These are some few things
that SU will provide for you while you
are here at SU. But now I challenge you to think
about what you can do for SU in the next four years. What ideas are you going
to bring to the table? What innovation do you want
to provide and contribute? What legacy do you
want to leave behind? Four years will go by really
quickly, and it’s your decision to see how best you
will use your time. Don’t hide yourself. Embrace this new
opportunity, this new adventure, and use it for the future. Assuming we all live up to 80
years old, college just makes up five percent of
our lifetimes, and the lasting impact can
be 80 percent of your future. Explore, think, engage, wonder. Do something every day that
will unleash your creativity and open the doors to
further opportunities. Three years ago I could have
never imagined myself standing right here in front of this
podium and talking to you all about Syracuse University
and the exciting journey that awaits each and
every one of you. I, too, was nervous,
anxious, and flabbergasted at the mere thought of
finally being in college. I didn’t know it at the time, but that anxiety was
actually what fueled me to open these doors
and excel at SU. I am not the only one, just
one of thousands of SU students and alums that have
stood in your shoes. I say these things to
bring light onto the fact that we all have the capacity
and capability to be great. It’s there for the taking. Get an education, pound the
pavement, do your due diligence, and become the greatest
version of yourself. On a final note, the advice
and tips you will receive in the next year will throw you, will be thrown at
you in buckets. As a freshman you will have
the unique opportunity of being in a position that every
single person enrolled at SU right now has
at one point, whether it’s your peer mentors,
faculty advisors, upperclassmen. Make no mistake, they
see themselves in you. Take advantage of it. Find someone who you can ask
questions and learn from. My doors are always
open, and you can find me at 126 Schine Student Center. Today marks the journey
of your journey at SU. You have the power to
control your future here. So make sure you squeeze the
orange for all it’s worth, and do it while empowering
others and leaving a lasting effect. Thank you. I would like to now
introduce Chancellor Syverud. [ Applause ]>>Good morning. A lot of speeches today;
mine will be brief. On behalf of my colleagues
on the faculty and the staff, I welcome you all to
Syracuse University. After my welcome you
are going to hear from Professor Kristi Anderson,
the Chapple Family Professor, the Meredith Professor,
the Maxwell Professor of Teaching Excellence
in the Department of Political Science
here at Syracuse. She teaches and writes about
citizenship and will have about 200 of you in her
class, Critical Issues in the United States,
starting next week. There are two very
different audiences here at this convocation
who I want to speak to. In front of me on the lower deck of this vast space are 3,800
freshmen and transfer students about to begin their
careers here. And above these students,
watching over you, as always, are your families
and loved ones. I have very brief
and separate messages to these two different
audiences. So first, to the
entering students of 2014. In a few moments Dean Maurice
Harris is going to ask you to rise and accept the charge. The words I’m going
to speak to you then and the words you will
speak to me are adapted from a charge first spoken on this campus 143
years ago in 1871. The Chancellor who spoke them,
Erastus Haven, and the students who heard them could not
have imagined what Syracuse University would become in 2014. And yet those students
in 1871 discovered many of the same things that you
are going to discover here. They learned that education is
not something bestowed on you, but something you earn through
hard work and through discipline and also you gain through
unplanned and unexpected wonders that happen all over a great
university and you need to be open to at all times
of the day and night. A good education
encompasses the full breadth of all disciplines here,
arts and humanities and sciences and professions. You’re going to learn not
only from your teachers, but also from your peers. And in the process, like
the students in 1871, you will become a
teacher yourself, and you will forge friendships
that last a lifetime. Those students in 1871
eventually left this university a better place and they
became better people. They were followed by 143
other cohorts of students and countless faculty and staff,
each of whom contributed here and changed this place. The university you see around
you today is not just a bunch of buildings and people and
course requirements and degrees. It’s the accumulation of all
the work and dreams and ideas and inventions of the students
and faculty who came before you. So much of what happens here
was beyond the imagination of any administrator. It was invented and
learned by the students and faculty working
here together. That includes the Goon Squad who unloaded your possessions
the last couple days. Students invented that in 1944. That includes the Reserve
Officer Training Corps, the oldest continuing operating
ROTC on any university campus. That includes so many programs
and departments and clubs and activities, from
The Daily Orange, one of the nation’s
top-ranked college papers, founded by students in 1903;
to the Crouse chimes installed in 1889 high above the bell
tower, heard across campus and played by student chime
masters for more than 125 years. It also includes more than
46 new student organizations created since last
year’s convocation. So incoming 2014
students, when you hear and accept the 1871 charge
at Syracuse University, I ask you to resolve to make
this university your own. I ask you to build something
here, to make something here, to leave behind something here that you alone can
uniquely contribute. We all want to help you do that, and that’s because we believe
this is your university and you need to make
it your own. And now I want to speak to
the folks in the upper decks, to the parents and families and
friends of the incoming class. I want you to know that three
times now I have dropped off one of my own kids at a university. Three times now I have sat
up there where you now sit. Three times I’ve been happy
and proud of my kids starting at a great university,
as you should be today. Three times I’ve been
anxious and concerned and not because of the food or
the residence halls. I’ve been concerned because
I suddenly realized sitting where you sit now that
there would be a piece of my soul walking around
a campus, often far away, beyond my ability to
completely control or to protect or to influence. I suspect some of you up there
right now are feeling what I felt each time I left
a kid at a university. My wife and my family and I
had poured so much into each of our children, so much
time and so much love and so much energy and so much
worry and so much inspiration. It was a labor of
love, but it was labor, and we got very used to it. Indeed, it defined the
best part of our lives. And then suddenly one day I
was looking down from a balcony on my kid and all the effort,
I guess, was worthwhile. We were successful. Our kid was ready to
embrace a great university, or so we hoped and prayed. One time when I dropped one
of my kids off at university, the chaplain of the
school addressed us parents and acknowledged all we had
done, as I have just done. He said, “Parents, you have done
so much, so many great things to enable these incoming
students to be wonderful and to take on a
great university.” And then that chaplain added
one more unforgettable thing. “Parents,” he said, “you must
now give your kid one more great gift, the most wonderful
and the hardest of all. You must go home.” I hated that chaplain. I did not want to go. I wanted to watch my kid thrive
in a university that offered so many wonderful
opportunities that I never had. I wanted to make sure my
kid picked the right friends and made none of the
many mistakes I made when I was in university. I wanted to be there for my kid,
as I always tried to be there for the previous 18 years. But I went home. I knew my kid had
to make his own way. I hoped that the university
would have good people, like Syracuse University and
SUNY-ESF do, among the faculty, among the staff, and
in the student body, people who would catch my
kid and inspire my kid. But I did go home,
as you must do. The happy news I can share with
you is that after a few weeks or months, my kids did
start calling me again, and I could still
be there for them. I could visit on
parents’ weekend. I could help do laundry
— lots of it. I could take joy each day and
in a different way in my kids who I watched become adults. Parents and family, I thank
you for all you’ve done and all you will do
for these members of the 2014 entering class. Like all of Syracuse University, I am the beneficiary
of your great work. Like all of Syracuse University, because of your great work
these students are our most sacred trust. Good luck to all of you,
students and families. Congratulations. [ Applause ]>>Good morning. I’m very happy to be here
to welcome you on behalf of the Syracuse University
faculty. The fall, the start of
school, remains a magical time for me and, I suspect, for most
all of my faculty colleagues. My own memories of
elementary school, high school, and college, and memories
of my children walking out to the school bus
and the present joys of meeting a new class of
students, all of these combine to make this an exciting
time of year. For you, this particular
fall of 2014, though it’s an exciting
new beginning, is also probably a bit scary. This is a completely
new situation, new place with new
responsibilities. It’s less structured than high
school, filled with new people, new rules and requirements, and
comes with huge expectations, as you’ve been hearing about. So many possibilities. So many potential friends,
interesting activities, courses to choose from. How do you manage
all of these choices to produce a successful
college experience; one where you’re happy,
where you stretch yourself and push yourself to grow
intellectually, socially and emotionally; where
you become more confident and where you develop
an appreciation of your own capacities
and strengths? I am here to provide you
with one very important piece of advice and it will
help you make the most of your college experience. First I want to convince you that this is advice
worth following, so a bit of background
is called for. In 1986, Derek Bok, then
the President of Harvard, wanted to evaluate how well the
university was educating its students and how
it might do better. Why, Dr. Bok wanted to know, did some students have a great
experience while others did not? To answer these questions, he approached Professor
Richard Light, a statistician by training who was
then teaching in the School of Education. Professor Light, with colleagues
from a number of universities, developed a large research
project based on interviews with 1,600 students
over 10 years. They asked students about
a whole range of things, how they spent their spare
time, about their courses, what sort of advising they
got, their perceptions of the quality of teaching. The researchers looked
for patterns to see what factors seemed
to produce happy, successful, intellectually-engaged students. What student experiences and
behaviors were most likely to improve learning
and overall happiness? Based on this research, one of
the most important predictors of a positive college
experience was this: how strongly a student felt
connected to faculty members. We often think of a great
college education as consisting of courses, some
of which accumulate into programs, majors, minors. But Light’s research suggests
that this is a very limited way to think about your
college education. Now, you know that your
social and emotional growth over the next four
years will depend on the human relationships
you build with your classmates
and friends. Similarly, your intellectual
growth over the next four
years will depend on the relationships
you build with faculty. This is what Light and
his colleagues found. The students who were happiest and most successful did
not just take courses and sit in classrooms. They had meaningful
relationships with faculty who provided them with ideas,
advice, guidance and support. So here’s my concrete
advice for this semester. Over the next three months, get to know one faculty member
reasonably well and make sure that faculty member gets to
know you reasonably well. How to do this? Speak up in class. Ask questions and
answer questions. Make sure that you
understand the feedback that your teacher gives you,
the grade or the comments on your paper or presentation. Tell him or her that you like
or don’t like an assignment, that you find a reading
interesting. Have a conversation. Make use of office hours. In those interviews with Harvard
students, the most satisfied, happiest students regularly
sought detailed feedback and asked specific questions
of professors and advisors. They didn’t say, “Why didn’t
I get a better grade?” They said, rather, “Can you
point out the paragraphs in this essay where my
argument had problems?” Faculty relationships may
be particularly important in your first year. I find that one of
the biggest mistakes that first-year students make is
to hide their academic problems. Ask for help. If you’re struggling in my
class, I want to help you. If you need advice,
I want to provide it. The researchers working with Professor Light interviewed
a sample of 40 students who stumbled academically
in their first year. The 20 of those 40 who asked
for help improved their grades, while the 20 who did not
tended to spiral downward, less able to bring
their grades up, feeling isolated and unhappy. Achieving this goal,
building a good relationship with one faculty member
during this semester, may require some
bravery on your part and will probably require
some effort and planning. You may need to make an
appointment, to think deeply about the ideas and
issues covered in the class so that you can discuss them. You may need to start writing
your paper long before the due date so that you can ask
for feedback and advice. But achieving this goal
will provide both immediate and long-term benefits. You’ll be at Syracuse for
eight semesters, at least. Even if you meet your
goal only half the time, that means in your
eight semesters in college you will get to
know well four professors, and they will get to know you. These are friends you
will be able to turn to for career advice
or when you’re thinking about your senior year
schedule or about internships or about graduate
school applications. These are people
who will be able to write knowledgeable letters
of recommendation for you. They are adults who
are vitally interested in your life and your ideas. You will be far better off and will have a far
richer experience if you follow this
one piece of advice. And if every one of
you follows my advice, my faculty colleagues
will also be better off. Having students who are
engaged with the material, who want to talk to us
about what they’re learning, and who are trying to live up to
our high expectations of them, that’s what this is all about. That’s why we love teaching. Thank you. [ Applause ] It’s now my pleasure to
introduce our alumni speaker, a Phi Beta Kappa and
summa cum laude graduate and remarkable human
being, Stephen Barton. Steve graduated in
2012 from Syracuse where he studied International
Relations, Economics, and Russian Language
Literature and Culture. As a student he earned
many distinctions for his outstanding
scholarship and leadership, including recognition
as a Coronat Scholar, Remembrance Scholar, University
Scholar and Class Marshall. A survivor of the horrific
2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado just two months
after he graduated, he has since worked
on the national stage to curb gun violence
and in Russia on a Fulbright Scholarship. Please join me now in
welcoming Stephen Barton. [ Applause ]>>Good morning, and thank
you, Professor Anderson, for that introduction. A little over two years ago
I stood on this platform at this podium in these
robes and in this dome to give a commencement speech
for my graduating class. I was nervous, mostly
about being the warm-up act for Aaron Sorkin,
Syracuse alumnus and creative genius behind A
Few Good Men, The West Wing, Social Network, The
Newsroom, among others. But while Sorkin may have
given the better speech, I can pretty confidently say I
had cooler plans for the summer. I was about to embark on a
cross-country cycling trip with my best friend, Ethan, from
Virginia Beach to San Francisco. We’d been planning the journey
for a few years as a sort of cathartic, post-graduate
odyssey. Go west, young man, but
for the 21st century. In my best friend’s words, we
would ride our metal steeds side by side off into the sunset. Well, the trip wasn’t quite
as glamorous as all that. For one, there was
a lot more chafing. But it was still thrilling,
eye-opening adventure. Ethan and I met countless
fascinating, hospitable strangers, all
while passing through some of our country’s most
beautiful landscapes. By the time we reached Denver in
late July, we felt unstoppable. An acquaintance very generously
invited us to stay with her. So we decided to treat her
and us to the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises,
the newest Batman movie, at the Aurora Century
16 Theater. Yes, that movie on that night in
that Aurora and at that theater. And, at all moments, on
the 44th day of our trip, a number that is
dear to the heart of every Syracuse sports fan. I was hit in the head and torso by shotgun blasts before I fully
realized what was happening. I remember hearing Ethan,
who was not wounded, yelling at a 911 dispatcher
through his cell phone. Our host for the night,
who sat between us and whose ticket we
bought out of gratitude for her hospitality, had
been shot in the head. A winding, unpredictable
cross-country trip had led us to one of the worst mass
shootings in America’s history. In a few short seconds, I’d gone from feeling unstoppable
to imminently mortal. I thought I was going to die,
but I didn’t feel ready at all. I was 22. I’d just
graduated from one of the best universities in
the country with three degrees at the top of my class. I had a Fulbright grant to teach
in Russia, an offer from Teach for America in North Carolina. If nothing else, I had a
cross-country trip to finish. I was able to escape
to the parking lot where I found a police officer
whose quick thinking saved my life. My best friend, Ethan, he
escaped without physical injury, and our host survived,
miraculously, without serious damage
to her brain. I woke up two doors down from
her in the intensive care unit of the hospital a few hours
after surgery filled with more than 20 pieces of lead and
a renewed sense of vitality. Shortly after I was
released from the hospital, I returned to my
home in Connecticut where I found a package from an
unknown sender sitting patiently at the front door. And included was a
letter which I would like to share now
with all of you. “Good morning, Stephen. Many, many tears came
as we heard the tragedy in Colorado at the Batman movie. It was time to pray for
all of you, and I did. In June 1955, I married my
high school, Cazenovia Central, sweetheart and we lived in
Syracuse University housing. Roger was a junior. On June 3, 1957, he graduated
in Archibald Stadium. John F. Kennedy, Senator of
Massachusetts, gave the address. A few years ago we moved to
Virginia from Skaneateles because Parkinson’s was
affecting Roger’s life and we wanted to
be near our family. Later Roger fell and broke his
hip, which brought on dementia, and his world became
a challenge. We shared 56-1/2 years
together at the time of his death last December. I wanted to give you
Roger’s SU T-shirt because you both
share SU as alumni. May you have good
health, peace, love, and be safe on your bicycle. Blessings to you and others. Ellen.” This is just one of
countless packages, letters, messages, and texts I
received from people connected to Syracuse in the weeks and
months following the shooting. Their support inspired me during
the lowest parts of my recovery when I questioned what
happened to me and why. And the people of Syracuse
continue to inspire me. Whenever physical
therapy gets tough, I remember meeting fellow
students who survived cancer at the Relay for Life fundraiser that takes place every
spring inside this dome. Whenever my mind strays to dark
places, I channel the strength of the survivors of sexual
and relationship violence who I heard bravely tell
their stories every year at the Take Back the
Night rally in March. Whenever I start to pity myself, I think of the many families
I met while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity
in the City of Syracuse, people who overcame their own
personal setbacks and challenges to finally buy their first home
and turn their lives around. Today you officially
enter into this amazing, inspiring Orange family that
stretches all across the city, the country, and even the world. Look around you at
your fellow classmates, your new brothers and sisters. Like most siblings, you
might not always get along, but you’ll always be there for
one another in times of need. All of you collectively
will be responsible for creating a culture on
campus of mutual respect, understanding and safety. Spend time with your classmates
who don’t look, sound, or think like you
because they are the ones from whom you will
learn the most. Just take it from me, the guy
who lived in an open double with a gay roommate from Jamaica
who had an inclination to speak with a proper British accent. I think I learned more during
my first four weeks at Day Hall than all four years
of high school. Whenever you’re at a
party off campus — and yes, you might have heard
we do have parties from time to time here at Syracuse — whenever you’re at a party off
campus, don’t just stand idly by if you see someone
else in trouble. Speak up, just as you
wish someone else would do on your behalf. And if you’re ever in doubt,
just think of my pen pal, Ellen, who reached out to a stranger
during the lowest moment of his life. What would Ellen do? The coming weeks and months
are going to be challenging. They are for everyone. But don’t worry if you don’t
find your best friends during your first semester here. It took me two years. Just support each other,
as good siblings do, and before you know it, it’ll
be that day four years from now when you’ll be in this dome
in these robes will hang across this platform
behind this podium. I can promise you Mom
and Dad will cry again. Congratulations, Classes of
2018 and 2019 and your families. Thank you. [ Applause ] [ Pause ]>>Will Maurice Harris,
Dean of Admissions, please present the incoming
classes of 2018 and 2019?>>Chancellor Syverud,
it is my honor to present to you our incoming class of
students to receive your charge. Will all new students please
rise and remain standing to receive the Chancellor’s
charge? Accepting the charge on behalf
of the Class of 2018 and 2019 and our transfer
students is Jamaya Powell of the SI Newhouse School
of Public Communications, and Stephen Guilbalt
of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.>>Chancellor Syverud.>>This charge is taken from
a speech by Erastus Haven, Chancellor of Syracuse
University on September 14, 1871. I charge you to embrace your
part in a great university. A university is a
place of genuine life and of patience,
discipline, thought. It is a place where
muscles must be trained; where inventions must be
created; where sciences, arts and religion
must be mastered; and where the conscience
must be enlightened. At this university there
must be study and thought without limit and without end. Other schools have
a narrow curriculum. We assign to you a
definite beginning, but we direct you to no one end. Somewhere along the way at Syracuse University you
will become the teachers and the teachers
will learn from you. Original study and
imagination will never cease. Like all great humane
institutions, your school will be
constantly changing and will never be complete. Yet we will always
enable every one of you to increase your learning,
your ability, and your success. I charge you to thrive here,
to learn here, to teach here, to make lifelong friends here,
and most important of all, to seek knowledge without end.>>Chancellor Syverud, on
behalf of the Class of 2018 and five-year program
students in the Class of 2019, I’m honored to accept
your charge.>>Chancellor Syverud, on
behalf of all transfer students, I’m honored to accept
your charge. Do you accept this
charge with us?>>We hereby accept your
charge to work hard, thrive, and seek knowledge without end.>>Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Members of the Class of 2018
and 2019 and transfer students, it is my honor to welcome
you to Syracuse University. [ Cheering, Applause ] Now in honor of our Syracuse
University tradition, please join together for the
singing of our alma mater. Will the audience please rise? The band will play the alma
mater one time through so that you can become
familiar with the melody. You will find the words
written in the program. [ Music ] [Singing]>>Where the vale of Onondaga,
Meets the eastern sky, Proudly stands our Alma
Mater, On her hilltop high. Flag we love! Orange! Float for aye-, Old Syracuse, o’er
thee, Loyal be thy sons and daughters, To thy memory. [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>We will conclude our program
today with the recessional. After the recessional, we invite
students and their families to please come to the floor
of the dome and join us for lunch on the turf. [ Music ]

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