Convocation 2014 introduces transparent administrators

By Campus Editor

New Student Convocation, an annual event in Grant Park that introduces incoming students to the college, began on Aug. 29 with a giant selfie spearheaded by Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Success.

In addition to expanding the college’s social media presence, other traditions like Kelly’s “Hell Yeah” liturgy and an address from the Student Government Association took place. President Kwang-Wu Kim, who is entering his second year at the college, addressed students and detailed his expectations for the year.

Because Convocation is one of the first times new students are integrated with the rest of the student body, Kim said it is a symbolic moment that connects students and introduces the administration.

“Convocation is the moment when it all becomes real in some ways,” Kim said. “It’s that first step of joining and being part of a community.”

Kim said his entire cabinet, which includes Stan Wearden, senior vice president and provost, Dayle Matchett, chief of staff, Jonathan Sterns, vice president of Development and Michelle Gates, vice president of Business Affairs, were present at Convocation in an effort to show incoming students that they intend to be accessible.

“It makes the student feel much more validated,” Kim said. “It makes them feel like their experience and what’s important to them is actually valued.”

Wearden encouraged students to get to know their faculty and staff and said how excited he was to begin his first academic year at the college.

“I’m a freshman, too,” Wearden said. “So, let’s do this together.”

Kim said when the administration interacts with students, it helps them better understand what students want and need. He said the time he spent interacting with students last academic year allowed him to connect to the campus.

“It’s my interaction with our students that keeps me excited and enthusiastic, even when things are tough,” Kim said. “I want to be the president who is known as really doing what I can to be there for our students.”

Kim said he wants to introduce his cabinet to the same experiences this year because many of them are new to the college as well. He said he especially wants Wearden to reach out and interact with students because his duties as provost require it. He added that there should be ongoing collaboration.

“I want to make sure Dr. Wearden has lots of opportunities to see what I see and really interact with students,” Kim said. “I know he was excited about the New Student Convocation because it’s another first experience for him at Columbia.”

According to Kelly, the incoming class is approximately 2,600 students and is the strongest class that has ever entered Columbia, which he said is measured by academic accomplishments and creative practice.

“If our students grab all the resources we make available, if they take the inspiration, if they go hard, then it will be an incredible journey for them,” Kelly said.

Kelly said it is imperative for students to attend convocation because it is one of the only events of the year where Columbia students come together in large numbers and interact directly with the faculty, administration and staff, and that the “Hell Yeah” liturgy is an extension of that.

“There’s no other event that captures that power and potential like the New Student Convocation,” Kelly said. “It’s all framed by the city skyline in majestic Grant Park and it’s a pretty powerful moment.”

Nathan Polk, a freshman advertising major, said he enjoyed Convocation because the energy from the administrators and the students was so positive.

“It’s so awesome,” Polk said. “The “Hell Yeah” [liturgy] was so fun.”

Sarah Fassett, a freshman business & entrepreneurship major, said she chose to attend the college because she wanted to be in a community that fosters collaboration.

“It’s awesome to feel included as part of a community,” Fassett said. “I’ve been to other colleges and it’s never been anything like this.”