Students Encouraged to Bridge Divides at Convocation

September 4, 2019

On September 3, the Wellesley community came together for convocation to mark the start of the College’s 145th academic year. Below are some highlights from this year’s celebration, which included the procession of students, faculty, and staff from the Academic Quad, remarks from President Paula A. Johnson, Provost and Lia Gelin Poorvu ’56 Dean of the College Andrew Shennan, College Government President Diana Lam ’20, and College Government Chief Justice Nimo Suleyman ’20, and students reconnecting after the summer break. In keeping with tradition, the ceremony was followed by Stepsinging in the Hay Outdoor Theater.

Students lead the procession to the theater

Students and faculty process from the Academic Quad to the Hay Outdoor Theater as part of Wellesley’s convocation. Students line up by the gonfalons, or banners, representing their residence halls on campus, and are led by Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble.

President Johnson and the college government president react to a conversation.

President Paula A. Johnson shares a candid moment with College Government President Diana Lam ’20 before the start of the ceremony.

In her remarks, President Johnson said, “Of all the goods that we serve, none is more important than fostering the capacity to bridge divides—of politics, race, economic class, immigration status, and all the other fault lines of 21st-century life. This is an essential tool of leadership—and the foundation of democracy. It will go far to determine what the future looks like. In every conflict, every dispute, lies an opportunity. Differences can tear us apart or they can make us stronger—but only if we learn to use them wisely. To listen to each other. To assume the best. To seek out common ground. To be that bridge.” 

A student laughs amid a crowd of students in the theater.

As a new year begins, members of the red class of 2020 react to Lam’s address.

A side profile of a woman wearing graduation robes.

Rev. Jacquelina Marquez, Wellesley’s new dean of religious and spiritual life, delivered the benediction and welcomed the crowd at convocation by sharing a moment of peace with friends and colleagues nearby. Rev. Marquez joined Wellesley this summer from Northwestern University, where she had been the associate university chaplain since 2013. 

Students sit in Hay Amphitheater listening to remarks.

Grouped by class year and color, students fill the Hay Outdoor Theater to welcome the new academic year in a bright display of Wellesley pride.

Provost Shennan delivers his address from a podium

“We are deeply rooted in our sense of purpose. We are deeply rooted in this place. We are deeply rooted in our past and in our values. We are rooted, but we are restless,” Provost and Lia Gelin Poorvu ’56 Dean of the College Andrew Shennan said. “Our mission is fundamentally about liberation: Our founder called higher education for women ‘one of the great world battle cries for freedom.’ So how can we ever be merely satisfied? There is always more to do. There is always a gap between our aspiration and our reality, and that gap is what drives us forward as an institution.”

Four students laugh and hug

 Friends in the class of 2020 take a moment to enjoy the beginning of their final year together at Wellesley.