Emory Report
September 6, 2005
Volume 58, Number 2


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September 6 , 2005
Class of 2009 greeted by Emory family


Each year, Emory’s opening convocation serves as the University’s official welcome to the incoming freshman class. The focus is on the promise of new frontiers and excitement of new experiences.

This year’s convocation, held Tuesday, Aug. 30, in Glenn Auditorium, added a fresh focus to mix—the welcoming arms of a new family. “Emory’s stories big and small now become yours,” said Marshall Duke, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology, who delivered the 2005 convocation address to the approximately 1,250 members of the Class of 2009, several of whom sat on the staircases due to the overflow.

“Transfer these memories into your own minds and hearts,” Duke continued. “They are your primary reason for being here.”

Duke took the title of his address, “You Must Remember This ...,” from a line in the song “As Time Goes By,” from the movie Casablanca. In between explaining the origin of the line to his teenage audience and urging them to take heed of memories, Duke provided them with a couple.

He told the story of William Param Brooks, who died nearly 20 years ago. Though few in the Emory community knew Brooks’ name, a crowd filled Glenn to pay their respects because they knew his face. He checked bookbags at the front door of Woodruff Library and therefore came into contact, and touched the lives, of most everyone on campus. He became part of the Emory family.

Duke also recalled the events of Feb. 4, 1983, when a group of students stowed away in the restrooms of Woodruff Library overnight. The next morning, library staff found 75,000 books on the second floor turned spine-side in—but still in proper filing order.

In their wake, the students left flyers with the message behind their prank: Don’t turn your backs on the human search for understanding. What happened next, Duke said, was even more memorable.

Library staff issued a campuswide call for help in turning the books back around. Students, staff and faculty from across Emory volunteered to help, and they worked together to set things straight—just like a family.

President Jim Wagner also took the stage to challenge the freshman to seek knowledge, be open to new perspectives and communicate openly. “Be a contributing member of something larger than yourself,” he said.

“Think deeply about important questions,” Wagner continued, before urging the freshman to dig even deeper. “And propose possible solutions. That’s scary, and that takes courage.”

Preetha Ram, assistant dean for science in Emory College, led off the presentation portion of the ceremony. She spoke of the “three pillars” of science education at Emory: innovation, interdisciplinarity and internationalized, then placed them in their proper context.

“We are community of scholars that nurtures connections,” she said, regarding interdisciplinarity. “We show students how science related to religion, ethics, art and other aspects of the human condition.”

Seconds after Ram stepped from the podium, dance Lecturer George Staib and Associate Professor Lori Teague emerged and, following some opening steps, sprinted up the aisles and back. When they returned to the front, they settled into their dance “Together Again for the First Time,” accompanied on acoustic guitar by Brian Luckett. Following the performance, which took the dancers to some innovative places (including the top of the Glenn railing), Duke delivered the keynote.