“Hell Yeah”: New Student Convocation takes over Grant Park


Lou Foglia

Mark Kelly, vice president of student success, leads incoming students in the annual “Hell yeah!” chant on Sept. 4.

By Lauren Kostiuk, Campus Reporter

Chants of “Hell yeah!” rang throughout Grant Park as Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Success, gave his iconic liturgy of commitment and introduced approximately 2,700 new students to the college at the annual New Student Convocation on Sept. 4.

“This is Columbia’s powerful and playful way of creating something special that captures who we are and what we are,” Kelly said.

The liturgy calls for students to build their creative crew, connect with faculty, expand diversity, live intellectually, explore the campus and city, build a body of work, create their career paths and go “hard, wide and deep” toward their goals, which all tie back to the college’s Strategic Plan.

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim interacted with new students, addressing them for the first time and encouraging them to be bold and courageous, open doors, take the step forward, say things in the moment and engage in their education.

“Surface your courage,” Kim said. “I am convinced each of you have a great deal of courage inside you because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have made the choice to come to a school that is all about [your passions].”

Kim, Kelly, Student Government Association members, orientation leaders and Faculty Senate President Gregory Foster-Rice were present on the Convocation stage in an effort to show incoming students they are accessible and supportive of them.

According to Kelly, the incoming class is the strongest class academically to enter Columbia and the most geographically diverse, with every state represented in the country except North Dakota.

The orientation leaders will continue to work with their cohort of students through the New Student Commons program. Every Friday, several hundred new students will join administrators and orientation leaders for food and connections.