Emory Report

August 30 , 1999

 Volume 52, No. 2

Convocation begins 'four-year adrenaline rush' for '2003'

Storm clouds may have darkened the sky outside, but the future looked so bright for the 1,197 Emory neophytes gathered inside Glenn Auditorium Aug. 25 for Freshman Convocation that they might have worn shades. And a few of them did.

"As provost and chief academic officer of the University, I welcome you to the 1999-2000 year, the 162nd academic year at Emory," said Rebecca Chopp to open the ceremony, inviting the freshmen to make the best use of "some of the greatest resources in the world" for teaching, research and service.

With faculty and administrators at the front of the auditorium looking part-choir, part-Crayola crayon box in their multicolored academic robes, the new freshmen packed Glenn top to bottom, flanked on either side by orientation leaders clad in bright red T-shirts. Voices of Inner Strength, the student gospel choir, sat patiently alongside the faculty.

"Your being here with all your diversity and accomplishments says something about the future, and that's a burden on you," said Emory College Dean Steve Sanderson, who spelled out the University's commitment to safety and tolerance for its newest students. "You must refuse intolerance. Part of your job is to recognize other people and respect them. Insist others do likewise."

Frances Lucas-Tauchar, dean of Campus Life, gave the students the same advice her father, a longtime university president, gave to her as she headed off to Mississippi State as an undergraduate. "He said, 'Frances, the only way to really learn in college is to go to everything you can. Anything the university offers you, go to it; I don't care if it's a monkey dancing on a stick, you go.'"

Lucas-Tauchar also warned the students of the dangers of alcohol and drugs. "Get to know writers like Emerson, Joyce and Alice Walker, not the famous beverage makers like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam," she said. Of drugs, she reminded the freshmen that they permanently alter a person's brain. "Your brains are among the best in the country, so let's all commit to taking care of each other's brains."

Student Government Association President Matt Maron gave the freshmen the kind of advice he said he would've wanted as a first-year student: to roll with the changes at Emory because they are many. He advised them to take full advantage of the faculty there to teach them. "Don't be surprised if you run into some of the people you saw on CNN walking on the Quad at the great 8:30 a.m. class time," Maron said.

He urged the freshmen to participate in study abroad programs, relish in the University's diversity, to experience everything Emory has to offer and, above all, to not have any regrets. "In May 2003, do not look back and say, 'I should have done this,'" Maron said. "Get ready for the ride of your lives because these next four years will be a pure adrenaline rush."

Dressed mostly in black T-shirts, with a few red-shirted orientation leaders jumping onstage to join them, Voices of Inner Strength then treated the freshmen to what will probably be the first of many choral treats.

And finally President Bill Chace took the lectern to dispense his own wisdom. "You can start all over," he told the Class of 2003. "You can shed whatever you want to shed. I implore you to seize the rare chance to put aside whatever you've long suspected is unnecessary in your personality, in your personal baggage.

"You are not here because you've figured anything out-you're here to learn," Chace said, counseling the freshmen on how to get through the inevitable moments of embarrassment, awkwardness and loneliness they will experience. "The pain will disappear in time, and only the results of learning will stick with you."

For his final piece of advice, Chace admitted he spoke against the teachings of some parents, peers and much of American culture. "Suspend for at least two years any pre-professional ambitions you've brought to this campus," he said. "I speak for time present and not time future; time present is the only time you'll ever have to pursue certain mysteries to which you'll never be able to return. You're in college because you're ready for it--and you're not ready for anything else."

--Michael Terrazas

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