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Create your own vision, Hogan tells freshmen at Convocation

by Sherry Fisher - September 2, 2008


“We’re looking for students who will bring a sense of wonder to their classrooms and will inspire their teachers as much as their teachers inspire them,” President Michael J. Hogan told the Class of 2012 during Convocation in Gampel Pavilion Aug. 22.

“I was surprised to learn that members of the Class of 2012 did not know that IBM once made typewriters,” he said, “and that, for this class, The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno, caller ID has always been available on phones, and the nurse has always taken your temperature by putting a thermometer in your ear.”

President Mike Hogan addresses new students at Convocation in Gampel Pavilion on August 22. [Text of Hogan remarks]
Video by Media Design, ITL

Hogan told the audience in the nearly full pavilion that he understood how parents might be feeling.

“I know exactly how your parents feel right now, because my wife Virginia and I have four kids of our own – all college graduates,” he said. “I’ve been where you’re sitting four times. It’s a fantastic feeling of pride in our children but also a bit nerve-racking at the same time.

“We’ll try as hard as we can to take care of your children,” he told the parents. “We want to be there when they need help; we want to protect them, educate them, and keep them safe.”

Hogan told students they would be working hard.

“With a full schedule of classes ahead of you, it’s safe to say you’re going to be reading a lot of books, taking a lot of notes, attending a lot of lectures, and cramming a lot of information into your heads,” he said.

“It might even make you dizzy at times, but you and I both know that with your talent, energy, and a whole lot of discipline, you should be able to handle the workload, graduate with distinction, and go on to very exciting careers that will make us all proud of you.”

He said, “College isn’t just a place where young people read the books and accept the views of those who came before them. It’s a place where they form their own visions and invent the world all over again.”

Regina Barreca, professor of English, delivers the Convocation address in Gampel Pavilion.

Regina Barreca, professor of English, delivers the Convocation address in Gampel Pavilion.

Photo by Peter Morenus
Listen to Regina Barreca's remarks at Convocation.

Hogan told students to “live a little” during their college days.

“I know your parents told you they spent their entire college years in the library, and I don’t want to contradict them,” he said, “but sometimes we need to put the books down and take a good look at the world around us.”

Provost Peter J. Nicholls, in his welcoming address, said education is more than passing tests or memorizing information.

“Learning is for life,” he said, “so our general education curriculum provides opportunities and challenges, just as life does.”

Regina Barreca, professor of English, told students, “Don’t call your parents every time you need to make a decision – not even the really huge decisions like what socks to wear on the first day of class.

“Try to make those big choices on your own,” she added.

Barreca encouraged students to have conversations with each other, which is something of a lost art.

“If your roommate’s iPod is too loud, gesture to your roommate to remove the ear bud and have a conversation,” she said. “Conversations are when two people speak to each other when they’re not texting or on the phone with other people.”

She suggested that students try something new.

“Don’t just keep doing what you’ve done before,” she said. “If you’ve been brilliant in the sciences, take courses in humanities. If you’ve always done well in English, try something in astronomy. Take a film course, an art history course.

“At UConn you’re going to earn your diploma in the same way you’re going to earn your grades,” Barreca said. “Nobody is going to give you a grade, you will earn it. Your successes are up to you.”

The ceremony was followed by a campus-wide picnic.

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