President Bradley W. Bateman delivered a message about respect and community as key ingredients for an abundant life Wednesday as Randolph College officially marked the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year with Convocation.
The ceremony began with the traditional procession of faculty and seniors from Main Hall into Smith Hall Theatre. Also following tradition, seniors wore funny hats and graduation robes decorated with buttons as they exchanged cheers and songs with the sophomores.
During the event, Carl Girelli, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, presented several awards to students and faculty.
Jude Quintero ’20 earned the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award, which is given annually to the junior who has attained the highest grade point average in her or his class.
Music professor Emily Yap Chua received the Katherine Graves Davidson Award, which recognizes a member of the full-time faculty who has been outstanding in bringing distinction to the College.
Economics and business professor Jeff Heinfeldt was awarded the Katherine Graves Davidson Scholarship Award, which recognizes the importance of faculty research, scholarship, and achievement.
English professor Gary Dop was presented the Gillie A. Larew Distinguished Teaching Award, which is given to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated excellence as a classroom teacher.
Tori “Tea” Green ’19, president of Student Government, welcomed her fellow students and spoke about having courage in the face of change.
Green addressed some of the changes that each class is currently facing. First-years, she said, are away from home for the first time and starting college. Sophomores are declaring majors, taking harder classes, and becoming more involved on campus. Meanwhile, juniors and seniors are taking on even more responsibilities and thinking about “what’s next” after college.
“Many of us are scared of change, of the uncertainty of tomorrow, of putting ourselves out there to be hurt anyway,” Green said. “We feel that if we stay in our comfort zones, nothing bad will ever happen, but we forget that nothing amazing will happen there either. Every single person in this room today has more courage than they realize, and I am honored that I get to witness it.”
Bateman echoed Green’s sentiments about embracing and adapting to change in his remarks. He touched on some of the changes happening at the College this year, including the new RandolphConnect networking platform and the new Common Experience curriculum for first-year students. The program is themed around the College motto, Vita Abundantior—the Life More Abundant. Bateman said one of the ways Randolph supports and prepares students for an abundant life is its close, respectful community.
“In this community, we are not all the same,” Bateman said. “We do not all have the same religious beliefs, do not all come from the same social class, and do not all share the same political preference. But we respect each other and we treat each other with basic human decency. That is a common value of those who come here and who choose to stay at this college.”
“And this, then, is an example of one of the ways that students who come to Randolph learn to live a life more abundant,” Bateman added. “A life with a more abundant concern for others, a life with more abundant engagement, and, I hope, a life with more joy and peace. For the more people with whom you can connect, the more abundant your life will be.”