Bagpipes and drums filled the air as the St. Andrews University Class of 2016 processed across the causewalk for the first time this week.
“The procession to this opening convocation ceremony is a first step on an academic journey,” said President Paul Baldasare. “Four years from now you will end the journey with another symbolic trip across the lake to the commencement ceremony. No one makes it across alone and the faculty and staff at St. Andrews are committed to ensure that you walk back across the lake.”
The incoming students come from numerous states and such countries as Scotland, Sweden and South Africa.
“St. Andrews is where you will learn who you really are,” junior Kim Baird told the assembly. “The next four years are a crucial time to take an opportunity to be a part of something.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Neal Bushoven, distinguished professor of politics, challenged the students to be in college, not just at college.
“Will we be a part of or apart from this vital learning community?” he asked. “If the only thing you take from this speech is grappling with that question, I will feel I have succeeded. Yes, in college? Or no, only at college?”
Bushoven emphasized the need for the supportive community for both the students and the faculty.
“I am here because I need you as students and young persons to stay alive,” he said. “Oh, not physically, I need others for that, but mentally and psychically. Without your assistance, I will surely disappear into my tribe of old geezers grousing about those kids today.
“Converse with me and most importantly educate me as to how you see and understand the world,” Bushoven continued. “Require of me that when I teach, I also respect you and listen and learn from you. Because we are incomplete as humans without others, I believe that we all need to find dignity in difference or as humans we will shrivel up and dry out.”
The ceremony also consisted of the signing of the Community Honor Code for all new students.
“We really do take these values seriously,” said Dr. Edna Ann Loftus, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of English. “It makes such a profound difference in the relationships we have on this campus.”