Members of the Class of 2019 and their families were welcomed into the Columbia family at Convocation on August 31. Under a large tent on Low Plaza that brought together Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, President Lee C. Bollinger, Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education James J. Valentini and Columbia College Alumni Association President Douglas R. Wolf CC’88, among others, addressed the students and their families.
The event began with the traditional, colorful parade of students carrying the hundreds of flags that represent every home state and country of the incoming students, followed by the Alumni Procession, in which College alumni carry banners representing their class’ decade. Shortly thereafter, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jessica Marinaccio addressed the attendees, noting the significance of the event by remarking that Convocation is a “ceremony when aspiring Columbians truly become Columbians.”
Wolf then introduced the CCAA as an important resource and encouraged students to “take an active role in the next four years to make the most of your Columbia education.” He emphasized that students should aspire to more than just excelling academically; they should challenge themselves and build their community.
Valentini spoke next, and stressed that students should develop “beginner’s mind,” a Zen Buddhism concept that promotes an approach toward life with eyes and mind wide open, and without preconceived notions and assumptions. He said that diversity is a hallmark of Columbia and it is an ideal environment in which to practice “beginner’s mind.” “If you make assumptions about others, if you have preconceptions about them, you will miss the opportunity to learn from them and learn with them. You will fall short of our expectation that you are best able to profit from and contribute to our community,” he said, also pointing out that “Columbia blue” was now a part of each student’s heritage.
Academic Affairs student representatives Nicole Allicock CC’18 and Luis Rivera SEAS’18 then introduced both the pledge and code of honor, which encourages students to uphold integrity and honesty while pursuing academic excellence. The incoming students, sitting with parents and family, stood and joined them in reciting the oaths.
Bollinger, the last to speak, emphasized that students should recognize that their college class is part of a unique and “transformational” era. He noted the rise of global capitalization, the new technology of global communication and the massive movement of peoples across the globe. He pointed out that Columbia, with its research initiatives, global centers and new Manhattanville campus, is the right setting for developing the understanding of this rapidly changing world and effecting change, and encouraged the students to engage in this change.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of Roar, Lion, Roar, Columbia’s fight song, written by Roy Webb CC 1910, Morris M. Watkins CC’24 and Corey Ford CC’23.