In a change from the normal St. Andrews University opening Convocation, a campus wide and community gathering on the first day of classes kicked off the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year.
Usually the event is held during orientation week for new and transfer students along with parents who were still on campus followed by a picnic. Discussions began earlier this year about a first-week convocation experience that would be open to all students and staff to attend the 11 a.m. gathering.
Classes on the first day, Aug. 21, were dismissed at 10.30 a.m. to allow for all faculty, staff and students to attend.
That decision proved to be successful as Harris Courts was filled with new students marching in, surrounded by hundreds of returning students, faculty, staff and community members including Scotland County Commissioner Carol McCall, Laurinburg Mayor pro tem Mary Jo Adams, Laurinburg Presbyterian Church pastor Rev. Rob Martin and NC House of Representatives 48th District member Garland Pierce.
Students began assembling on the causewalk led by Pipe Major Bill Caudill and escorted by University Marshall Dr. David Herr, Dr. Edna Ann Loftus, Academic Dean, and Mr. Loren Cornish, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Dr. Herr declared the Convocation to be in order. The Rev. Dr. James R. Henery, Director of Communications and University Chaplain, led the invocation. Dr. Loftus welcomed the students and community.
Student Government Association President Eduardo Andrade spoke to the students and challenged them to be active, involved and willing to make a difference as they begin their years on campus.
Dr. Loftus introduced the speaker, St. Andrews University President Paul Baldasare Jr., as one who has thoroughly invested himself in the life of St. Andrews. Mr. Baldasare graduated with Honors from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in 1977 and went on to receive his J. D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Law, 1980. After a career in law and higher education, he returned in 1997 to St. Andrews to serve as Vice President for Institutional Advancement (1997-2006) and was then chosen as President of St. Andrews in January 2007 and continues in that office today.
In his convocation speech titled “Challenge, Change and Call,” President Baldasare said, “In this time of challenge and change for you, we plan to help you think through what motivates your actions and animates you to change, to live outside the narrow confines of your own self-interest, and to find a direction in your life that leads to meaning and purpose. How will the work you do here and the life you begin when you leave lead you to focus on something larger than yourself, something that holds meaning for you beyond your own comfort and self-satisfaction?”
He concluded: “So, are you ready as students to begin the search, face the challenges, make changes and respond to your own personal calling in ways that lead you beyond the walls that separate you from each other and from the larger community? And are we as a university prepared to take a few risks and act with a sense of urgency to introduce a new era of innovation and change that will make this good place even better and more responsive to the needs of our students and one another? I think you are, and I think we are. So, let the journey begin on this day, the first day of the new academic year!”
Following the speech, Mr. Cornish began the Community Honor Code Ceremony having all new and transfer students sign pledge cards.
Mr. Sean Moore, Instructor of Music and Accompanist, Ms. Elizabeth Blair, Assistant Professor of Music, and choir members Phillip Alden, Gabriella Rhodes, Gabrielle Stephens and Jessica Doepp led the assembly in singing the Alma Mater.
A picnic lunch at Belk concluded the morning and classes resumed.