Convocation 2009 Address
by President Michele Perkins
September 1, 2009
Students, faculty, and staff of New England College, trustees, alumni, friends, and honored guests – today we celebrate the 63rd Convocation of New England College!
Convocation is a ceremony that is steeped in tradition and symbolic on many levels. It is a day to acknowledge the beginning of a new academic year and to affirm our academic goals. For our first-year students, it is an opportunity to formalize your commitment to your academic pursuits at New England College. Returning students are eager to reconnect with friends and faculty and settle into their classes, co-curricular activities, athletics, and the many cultural and recreational activities that this region and the State of New Hampshire have to offer.
It is my sincere wish, that each of you finds that special place at New England College, that connection, where you can grow intellectually, become actively engaged in a community of colleagues and friends, and find a source of energy, motivation, and encouragement that inspires us all to accomplish great things.
As I was preparing for these remarks today, I reflected on that generations-old question, “How did you spend your summer vacation?” I know for many of you the summer means a job, maybe even more than one job, perhaps taking classes, or working on a special project. There never seems to be enough time for a true “vacation” in the traditional sense.
The same applies for faculty and staff. Many of them have spent the summer on a variety of academic and professional projects. Dr. Bill Preble, Professor of Education, has been working on his book on school climate; Dr. Aaron Daniels is also working on getting his book on magic and ritual published; Wayne Lesperance, Associate Professor of Political Science has been guest hosting New Hampshire Public Radio’s “The Exchange” program; Mark Mitch, Associate Professor of Environmental Science, has been actively participating in a number of environmental improvement projects, monitoring the water quality of the lakes in this area, and breaking ground on a new community garden. Many members of our faculty have been incorporating new technology into their classrooms that will enhance the educational experience of our students. A new media lab is taking shape in our Science Building – thanks to the efforts of Farid Haddad and Neal Rennie. The College’s art gallery has been preparing for their opening exhibition of the season which will include work by Peter Granucci one of the faculty members in our Art Department. NEC’s Carriage Theatre Ensemble is getting ready for their fall production of Woyzeck – considered by many to be the first truly modern play. And, a publication that has just been released, The 2010 Poets Guide to New Hampshire: More Places, More Poets, includes the work of two of our faculty members, Martha Andrews Donovan and Sylva Boyadjian-Haddad. There are many more stories like these – too many to mention here - and I offer my congratulations to you all!
As an institution, this has been a particularly busy, and I must say, exciting, summer for New England College! After completing a major renovation of our covered bridge, one of the icons of our campus, we looked to our student center, the Simon Center, to make some significant improvements in the Café and Pub areas. We added a new undergraduate major in Environmental Sustainability and launched four new graduate programs in International Relations, Professional Writing, Sports and Recreation Management, and Higher Education Administration. We have named new officers to our Board of Trustees. We have put the finishing touches on a new program to attract the top students from our community college system. And, as one of the first institutions in the region to adopt the new Post 9-11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program, we have renewed our commitment to our country’s veterans, for whom this College was founded 63 years ago.
Over the summer, along with Vice President for Advancement, Michelline Dufort, and members of the Advancement team, I have done quite a bit of traveling to meet with some of the amazing alumni of this College. It is an inspiration to meet people all over the country who say, without hesitation, that New England College is the greatest thing that ever happened to them. People like Harriet Sanford from the Class of 1974. Harriet is the President and CEO of the National Education Association Foundation in Washington.
It has been our goal to engage people like Harriet - talented and accomplished graduates - to take an active role in the life of the College, to commit to a higher level of support, and to become more closely engaged with our current students.
Also, over the summer, environmental improvement projects made possible through Federal funding have taken shape. With those funds we will be installing alternative energy systems in a number of our campus buildings.
What is most exciting, is the ground breaking for the new artificial turf field for our field hockey team, our men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer teams, and our recreational sports groups. Thanks to the successful efforts to secure $1.6 million dollars for renovations to the Simon Center, Gilmore, and a project that has been at the top of our wish list for some time, the artificial turf field, we are ready for construction!
So…what did we do on our summer vacation? The list is long and the accomplishments of our community are many.
It is my great honor to welcome you all here today. To welcome you for the first time – to welcome you back - to a strong and vibrant academic community that encourages intellectual pursuit, acknowledges outstanding achievement, and pursues excellence in every way. Over the summer, our vacation, New England College has proven once again, the strength of its mission remains the driving force in its success. I look forward to working with you all in the year ahead.