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Brockport / President's Office / Presidential Speeches and Public Statements / Convocation 2008

Academic Convocation: Sunday, August 24, 2008

by President John R. Halstead

Good afternoon! It's my pleasure to welcome you to The College at Brockport as we begin an exciting 2008-2009 academic year.

This ceremony is all about STUDENTS — YOU, our newstudents. But I must say that it is great to be surrounded by some returning student leaders such as Kyle, Carley and Justine. I find it best to speak before students as they always upstage me!

And how about a talented, successful alumnus, Jamie, who has already probably "Googled" you all! And me.

If he "Googled" me, he would find that I am very proud to be your College President. And that I give lots of speeches. This will be one of my shortest!

In fact, I am reminded (by a recent op-ed piece in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle re: the verbosity of presidential candidates) of the quote from Benjamin Disraeli describing once eloquent William Gladstone as: "a sophisticated rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity."

I'll try not to fall into that trap and be brief again this year.

As I was returning to campus from a nice weekend in the Finger Lakes just one week ago, I was thinking about what I might say to you today, when a fast-moving Nissan Altima began to pass me on Rt. 531. As it came along side of me, the exuberant students inside waved and smiled as I gave them the thumbs up. They were some of your RA's and they reminded me that a new year is once more upon us.

The year you are entering our College — your College — is 2008 and "8" has special significance with the Chinese, also in this year of the Olympics — are you enjoying them? Is it coincidental that Michael Phelps won eight gold medals?

Let me pause and give special recognition to four young women who are joining our student body as part of SUNY's China 150 initiative — a humanitarian effort. We are elated that you are here as part of the College's long history of international education.

We are clearly part of a global world. Thus, the freshman book this year was The Bone Woman — not an easy read — by Clea Koff who'll be on our campus on September 23.

At the age of 23 while at Stanford, she chose to become a forensic anthropologist and today she still travels the world to tell others of her work with victims of abuse, genocide, war and political unrest.

Her mission in life is to unlock the truth and give a voice to those who have died for an unjust cause in an unjust manner. She literally "got her hands dirty" for a just cause.

Although your life mission may not be as grim — or humanitarian — I hope you'll engage in your studies here and in your future careers with the same kind of passion.

In closing, I am reminded of my friend Tom Brown's characterization of what business colleges engage in. When he spoke to our staff and faculty on critical issues of diversity and inclusion this past summer (and he'll do so again in September) he said we are in the dream business.

I truly hope your dreams come alive here!

Again, welcome to The College at Brockport.

Last Updated 2/28/12