Renowned entrepreneur and founding president of Ghana’s Ashesi University gives Commencement address
President Katherine Bergeron told the new students that they are beginning their collegiate careers not only during a pandemic, but also at a time of great economic uncertainty and in the midst of urgent calls for racial justice.
“The historians will be writing about this moment, so here is my advice to you: Make your story all that it can be,” she said.
Bergeron urged the students to do their part to protect the health of Conn’s community; to exercise their democratic rights; and, most importantly, to practice the art of dialogue. That advice speaks to the citizenship central to the College’s mission: To educate students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society.
“I’m asking you … to lean into this moment, and into this new opportunity that your education at Conn offers: to learn to become better citizens,” she said. “If you reach for the citizenship that lies at the heart of our mission, you will make history. I invite all of you to begin your journey today by embracing that singular challenge.”
During his remarks, Dean of the College Jefferson Singer told the new students that Connections, the College’s reinvention of the liberal arts, cultivates understanding and empathy in this important cultural moment when the capacity to see beyond oneself is essential.
“There’s never been a more important moment for the liberal arts. The world needs graduates who have clarity of mind, reserves of empathy and capacity for integrative problem solving,” he said.
“As you embrace your education at Conn, you will learn to become a discoverer of patterns, a skilled detective who uncovers necessary connections that help you to understand, and ultimately, change the world.”
Singer added that “the great Class of 2024, and our impressive group of transfer students, have already exhibited their ‘can do’ spirit in these challenging times.”
Prior to their arrival, the students were asked to quarantine for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19 at home. Once they arrived on campus, the new students were tested and participated in a virtual New Student Orientation while they quarantined in their rooms.
The virtual Orientation program included welcomes from various deans and student adviser coordinators, as well as virtual meetings with individual student advisers, floor and house meetings, and social events. The program concluded with the virtual welcome event featuring Glemaud, Bergeron and Singer, which ended with the traditional unveiling of the class banner.
Classes begin virtually on Sept. 1, with in-person classes beginning Friday, Sept. 11.