Alumni marched with their class decade banners on August 29 to welcome the Class of 2020 at Convocation, an annual event that marks the beginning of College students' experience. Columbia College Alumni Association president Douglas R. Wolf CC'88, Dean James J. Valentini, President Lee Bollinger and current College students were in attendance to cheer the incoming students and to officially welcome them to the Columbia family.
Columbia College Alumni Association President Douglas R. Wolf CC'88 greeted the Class of 2020. He said, “Each of you is about to experience four of the most memorable and formative years of your lives. This will be a journey like no other. And during that journey, you will find many resources, including those who have gone before you, members of the CCAA, the College's alumni.” He also spoke to the importance of making connections outside of the classroom (which he pointed out oftentime become lifelong) and added that the CCAA has many programs and opportunities for connecting alumni with students. He ended his remarks by stating that the bond between College students (both current and former) will "last a lifetime."
In his welcome speech, Dean James J. Valentini said: “I am congratulating you on your good fortune in being presented with an opportunity — an opportunity to profit from and contribute to the special experience that a Columbia education offers. That special experience is fundamentally an endeavor to find knowledge, to develop understanding and to gain insight.” Valentini also spoke to the importance of Beginner's Mind — engaging with the world of ideas and people without preconceptions and an openness to consider all ideas and all possibilities.
University President Lee Bollinger also addressed the students, parents and families. He spoke about the intellectual journey at Columbia. He remarked, “this is a defining moment in life when you began your undergraduate career at a great University like Columbia.” He added, “This is a period of life when your intellectual character will be shaped and to a considerable extent determined ... I can assure you that by the end you will be a different person, not only in all that you will know compared to what you know now, but more importantly in how you will think in the world the basis of your intellectural character. To be at Columbia is to exist in a world where virtually every human thought every conceived is open to study examination, consideration, acception, rejection, debate and analysis.” Bollinger also discussed the subject of free speech and explained that although the institution will not censor viewpoints that some of us may dislike, we have a responsibility to engage in debate and express counterviews.