August 30, 2011
President Cornwell speaks at Convocation 2011
WOOSTER, Ohio, Aug. 30, 2011 – “Today we begin, officially and in earnest, a new year of liberal inquiry. It is an honor, a privilege, and a joy to launch our noble work together.”
With those words, President Grant Cornwell today welcomed the Class of 2015, returning students, faculty and staff to the Convocation that marked the formal opening The College of Wooster’s 142nd academic year.
The 585 new first-year and transfer students come from 41 states and 24 countries. One in four are domestic students of color or international students. Nearly half were ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, while two dozen were valedictorians. They were selected from a pool of almost 5,000 applicants, the largest in the college’s history. They arrived on campus for orientation last Wednesday and began classes yesterday.
“Stand up for what you believe,” Hannah Haas, Student Government Association president, urged her fellow students, “Take steps to bring about positive change. Let’s make this the best year ever at Wooster.”
Cornwell focused his Convocation address on the upcoming 2011 Wooster Forum, a multi-disciplinary series of speakers, art exhibits, and performances titled “The Americas: Contact and Consequences.” He urged students to use the forum as a springboard to explore and develop a more critical awareness of their place in the world.
“[T]he history of the peopling of this so-called ‘New World,’” Cornwell told the audience, “is a history of overlapping diasporas…We are not from here, in a sense; our ancestors left the places they were from for reasons that in most cases were not happy or even freely chosen, and they took possession of homelands that belonged to others.”
That history and the meaning of the Americas “are ripe for critical interrogation, and that is what this college is here to promote.”
“Where are you from?" Cornwell continued. "Where do you belong? What rights and duties, liabilities and privileges, opportunities and limitations inhere in your identity? How have you benefited or been disadvantaged by your race, your ancestry, your gender, your socio-economic status, or any of the other socially constructed markers of identity that history and contemporary culture favor or disfavor? How are you situated in a global context and what does your situation imply for your education and life course?
“These are some of the questions…that the Wooster Forum will raise for your consideration, and that we suggest you would do well to think about in the course of your liberal education.”
The College of Wooster is an independent liberal arts college, nationally recognized for excellence in teaching and a curriculum built around mentored undergraduate research. Every Wooster senior works one-on-one with a faculty adviser to create an original research project, written work, performance, or art exhibit. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.
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