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New students encouraged to "change the world" during Academic Convocation

Bishop Goodpaster encourages students to “change the world;” two new traditions begin with the start of the year

Convocation_2010_90Pfeiffer University celebrated its annual Opening Academic Convocation on Aug. 20. Dozens of new students marched into the Merner Center for Health and Physical Education through a tunnel of returning upperclassmen who cheered and clapped as the new students processed into the gymnasium. It was the official start to their college careers.

Academic Convocation is a formal ceremony held to officially celebrate incoming Pfeiffer students.  This year is extremely special because 2010 marks the 125th year of Pfeiffer's history. Following an academic procession, the students were welcomed into their new university family and learned about the academic opportunities and campus traditions from Provost Dr. Tracy Espy.

Also new to the Pfeiffer campus is Interim President David McIlquham, who extended a ceremonial welcome to new and returning students, and to new faculty, before officially declaring the opening of school. McIlquham, a former Sealy CEO who was appointed to the post two months ago, expressed his excitement about the 2010-2011 academic year.

“I've always enjoyed new beginnings. The idea of a fresh slate, a clean canvas, a time to let go of the old baggage and start over – it's invigorating and exciting, and it seems the possibilities are endless,” McIlquham shared with his audience. “As we officially kick off a new academic year at Pfeiffer, I am filled with those same thoughts. It's a new day with new challenges and opportunities, and I'm optimistic about what lies ahead for all of us.”

Students also heard the rich experience of Rev. Dr. Larry Goodpaster, resident bishop of the Western N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church, a relationship that Pfeiffer has embraced since its inception. Bishop Goodpaster shared his wisdom, and like McIlquham he, too, expressed his optimism for the future and challenged students to “change the world.” He referenced scripture from Romans 12: 1-2.

convocation_2010_-_web_pix_12“To change the world is not to remake it in the image of what we would like to see, or that fits some personal agenda. Rather, to change the world is to shape it, mold it, recreate it in the way of the vision God has had all along – shalom, holiness and wholeness,” explained the Millsaps College graduate who was a freshman in 1966, a significant time in history surrounding the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. “During your Pfeiffer experience I urge you to become transformed leaders of the twenty-first century by the renewing of your minds so that you will be such maladjusted people that the world will be changed!”

Convocation also marked the inauguration of two new Pfeiffer traditions initiated by the new student experience known as the Pfeiffer Journey. The first was organizing two long lines of returning students who stood to welcome in the new students. Secondly, new students were given stones as they exited convocation by members of the faculty. This symbolic gesture represents the foundation that has been laid for the students and the foundation they will begin laying for themselves.

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