Convocation Tradition Continues with Class of 2020

The 26 members of the Konosioni Honor Society prepare to lead the Convocation procession into the Chapel.

On Wednesday, August 24, Colgate University’s First-year Orientation concluded with the annual Torchlight Procession and Founders’ Day Convocation ceremony – a tradition that commemorates the beginning of a student’s time at Colgate. For this particular occasion, students were told to dress up in semi-formal attire and to meet in the Chapel together for one last time as a class before graduation. The purpose of this unique tradition is to induct the Class of 2020 into the Colgate community. 

First-year Jordan Miller elaborated on her experience standing in the Academic Quad before entering the Chapel for the official welcome.

“It was nice to see all the seniors leading us into the chapel because they have all this wisdom from their past four years at Colgate, and we are just about to begin our journey. I thought the Torchlight Ceremony was symbolic of where our learning will officially take place,” Miller said.

During the Convocation Address, President of the University Brian Casey spoke about his arrival on campus for the first time and the personal connection he felt toward this incoming class.

“When I knew several months ago that I would be coming to Colgate in this position, I began a course of thinking about many things. I began to think about this class, your class. I knew I would be arriving at the same time you did and that I would be spending my first years on campus alongside you,” Casey said.

Casey empathized with the transition that the Class of 2020 is experiencing.

“We would be sharing much together, arriving in central New York, knowing essentially no one at Colgate in the beginning, figuring out how this university works. And thinking about it, it was hard not to be excited about the very name of this class. Colgate Class of 2020: my class,” Casey said.

Casey went on to speak about the Class of 2020’s entrance into Colgate at such a pivotal moment in the university and the country’s history.

“I believe fully that your class and the classes near you are in such [a historic] moment now. You have been blessed by history, to enter college during what is clearly a significant time,” Casey said. “We are gathered here for one reason, and that was to tell you that the one thing you need in these times, the one thing you must try to master, is your capacity to encounter ideas and to make them your own. It is the only plan that makes sense. It is the only path with sustenance.”

Casey expressed his hopes for what the Class of 2020 will accomplish while at Colgate.

“The most immediate and best piece of advice, that I can give you, that I want to give you tonight, is to meet this faculty. Talk to them about the ideas they love. Go speak to them about these ideas. More importantly, go find a backstory of how they fell in love with them, how some ideas pull them forward, how some ideas infuriated them, how some delighted them. Find that,” Casey said.

President Casey touched upon the Class of 2020’s obligation to learn about themselves and to shape the world around them.

“I say this all because the great task before you and your generation will not only be to encounter ideas but to reshape them,” Casey said.

Casey’s Convocation Address resonated with first-year students.

“Brian Casey’s speech really made me want to learn and be more inspired. He inspired me to find something that I really enjoy, whether it is with reading a book or studying for a test. His personal stories and experiences made me want to have those experiences at Colgate,” first-year Harper Loeb said.

Miller appreciated the genuine nature of Casey’s speech.

“It really stood out to me just how well he delivered it and how sincere and genuine he seemed. It really seemed like he was invested in his class and he was excited that it was his first year as well,” Miller said. “I love how Colgate’s tradition and Brian Casey’s speech made people really enthusiastic and it made me realize that this is a big moment that we will remember for the rest of our lives.”