College officially opens academic year with annual Convocation ceremony

President Donald P. Christian was joined by faculty, staff, student leaders and athletes, alumni, and Foundation board directors in welcoming new students to the 2014-2015 academic year during the College’s annual Convocation ceremony on Friday, Aug. 22.

“Convocation marks the end of summer, which always feels out of balance with so many students and faculty away,” said Christian. “Today, things feel right again, with a sense of readiness to take on the challenges of a new year.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 4.19.26 PMThe ceremony, which was revamped this year to be an interactive, student-centered event, reaffirmed “the importance of learning, discovery and creation—and the special wonder of engaging in the collaborative work between teachers and learners,” Christian said.

It also marked the importance of connecting new students to the broader SUNY New Paltz campus—the incoming class was welcomed as they entered the Athletic & Wellness Center by current student leaders, alumni who are employed at the College, and other alumni who graduated across the decades dating back to the 1960s.

“Their welcome,” said Christian, “is one step toward engaging our students more fully, inspiring them, and bonding them to their new home and community.”

In addition to Christian’s keynote, Stacie Nunes ’84g, physics and astronomy department chair, and SUNY New Paltz Class of 2014 valedictorian Arielle Rubinstein addressed students, offering words of encouragement and advice.

“My undergraduate experience changed the path of my life dramatically and in a very positive way. I learned that I had abilities that I had not recognized and I began to see myself as having a place in a broader world. The four years ahead of you have the potential to lead you places that you currently can’t imagine… if you let them,” Nunes shared with students.

Rubinstein shared a similar sentiment. “College is the evolution from all that is familiar to the unknown. It is through the experiences we have at college that we find direction,” she said. “As you prepare to begin this exciting journey, I remind you to pay close attention to the knowledge yours professors’ will impart – this will be very valuable after you leave this place. I remind you to appreciate the diversity and the talent of your peers. I ask you to think carefully about the decisions you make. I ask that you embrace the smallest of opportunities because you never know where they may lead. I ask you to reflect on how you will evolve over time at New Paltz, and always apply what you have learned about your field and yourself to your future endeavors.Congratulations, welcome again, and good luck.”

The first day of classes begins Monday, Aug. 25.