The Wellesley Community Celebrates an Inspiring Convocation

students and faculty celebrate Convocation
September 6, 2017

The academic year officially began on the afternoon of September 5 with the celebration of Wellesley’s 143rd convocation. In honor of this important tradition, which brings together faculty, staff, and students, faculty members wore robes depicting their fields of study and alma maters, and seniors dressed—for the first time—in the robes that they will wear at commencement. Everyone proceeded from the Academic Quad to the Hay Outdoor Theater to celebrate Wellesley’s commitment to academic excellence and to preparing young women for leadership roles.

Blue skies and summery temperatures were the backdrop as Tiffany Steinwert, dean of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, welcomed the community and Andrew Shennan, provost and dean of the College, emphasized the need for intellectual rigor in daily life. “Every time we hear history being misrepresented or rewritten, we should rededicate ourselves to critical thinking about the past,” he said.

Student leaders Maryam M. Khan ’18, College Government president, and Tashay Campbell ’18, chief justice, also spoke. “While we continue moving forward, taking a look back and self-reflecting provides an opportunity to recognize our growth. And, it is each of our responsibility to define that ‘growth’ for ourselves,” said Khan.

“On campus, off campus, and wherever you go, look out for your Wellesley siblings,” said Campbell. “Because at its core, the Honor Code is about bringing out the best in each other. This year, that is what I’d like to see.”

President Paula A. Johnson highlighted the importance of Wellesley’s mission in these uncertain times. “During my first year as president, I saw again and again the awe-inspiring power of this community in action. Today, I stand before you firmly convinced that Wellesley can help lead the way toward a better future,” she said.

At a time when many colleges are wrestling with questions regarding free speech, Johnson urged the Wellesley community to think about the impact and importance of words: “Beyond the question of what we have the right to say, lies another question: What do we want to say, given who we want to be?”

She continued, “As we move into this new year, I invite you to think of Wellesley as a natural laboratory for us to explore how to talk to each other. Give thought not only to what you say—but also to how you say it. Be curious. Experiment. Reflect.”

Stepsinging, another beloved Wellesley tradition, was held immediately following convocation.