Transformation and Tradition Are Key Themes of Class of 2025 Convocation
The Ursinus College community grew by 440 new students, who—thanks to a heat wave—received a literal warm welcome to campus on August 26. Members of the class hail from 24 states; Washington, D.C.; Mexico; and Kenya. Twenty-seven percent are students of color, 26 percent are first-generation students, and nine percent are legacy students. Overall, they boast an average GPA of 3.54.
Prior to unpacking, students completed COVID-19 testing in the field house. Zero positives were reported. (Follow our dashboard for updates throughout the semester.)
Although COVID-19 precautions prevented members of the football team from assisting with the move-in process as they typically do, sustainability fellows were positioned outside to aid in the breakdown and recycling of cardboard boxes.
Following a class photo on Friday morning, the convocation ceremony was held on the lawn in front of the Berman Museum of Art.
“Today is really about both tradition and transformation … Tradition is extremely important at colleges like ours. With an impressive and storied 152-year-old history, I believe it is important for you to recognize that you are part of an established collection of learned scholars,” said Interim President-Elect Jill Leauber Marsteller ’78, P ’18, who also reflected on her own convocation as a student.
“Sitting with my classmates at 17, I could not possibly fathom how much Ursinus would change my life. I came here anchored to what I thought was my life’s purpose—to teach—and I never would have imagined how much the relationships I had with my Ursinus peers, but especially faculty and administrators, would affect me, not just in four years, but for the rest of my life. And I certainly would never have portended that I would be standing here as the first female president of Ursinus speaking to you during a convocation.”
Other speakers included Ursinus College Student Government President Jalen Everette ’22, Director of Leadership Annual Gifts Abbie Cichowski Kim ’10, Co-Director of the Institute for Student Success Nick Hanford ’11, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ryan Walvoord, who received the the 2020 Lindback Teaching Award. Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Coordinator of Jewish Life Alexandria Frisch delivered the invocation, and College Chaplain and Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Rev. Terri Ofori offered the benediction.
Mark Schneider, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, spoke about the impact of the Ursinus Quest curriculum and the Common Intellectual Experience.
“You are embarking on an experience that will change the way you think about the world and your place in it. When May 2025 comes around, you, quite simply, will be different people than you are now. This is our job. This transformation happens because of what we give you, but it happens also because of what you give to the community. You will be exposed to ideas, to facts, to tools, yes. But equally important you will give back, by engaging with faculty, with fellow students, with staff about what to make of those ideas. You will grapple with understanding how others can see things very differently than you do; sometimes that will change your views, sometimes not, but will always deepen your perspectives on the world.”
Schneider also addressed the four questions upon which students continually reflect during their four years at Ursinus: What should matter to me? How should we live together? How can we understand the world? What will I do?
“Your responses to those questions, if we do our job right, will change over your time at Ursinus, and if we are really successful, will continue to change after you graduate because you will continue to ask those questions of yourself.”
UCARE (Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility and Engagement) planned a First-Year Day of Service for August 28 that was set to include welcome remarks from Collegeville Mayor Aidsand Wright-Riggins. This year’s service sites include Integrate for Good, the Ursinus Organic Farm, the Speaker’s House, Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, Parkhouse Nursing and Rehabilitation, and Phoenixville Area Positive Alternatives.