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

Academic Convocation

August 26, 2012
President John R. Halstead
The College at Brockport, State University of New York

Good afternoon! It's my pleasure as your President to welcome you to The College at Brockport, State University of New York, as together we begin an exciting 2012-13 academic year.

Wow! No—I'm not first talking about this new building but about you. Looking good the class of 2016! But how about this new building? It's a game-changer! Even though I've been talking about how it symbolizes where we are as a College (much like the new Liberal Arts Building we broke ground for in a big way last week)...Frankly, I'm in awe of SERC as we continue to transform the learning environment for generations of students.

But you've already been here for your welcome Friday afternoon...and perhaps a fitness routine as my family & I have enjoyed this summer. But let me welcome you again! 

You're the very first to benefit. You're the inaugural classes—our freshman class of 2016; our transfer class of 2014—as we celebrate the opening of school and our very first Academic Convocation in SERC! 

Do come back for our festive Grand Opening, Friday of Homecoming, Sept. 14th, as we have many special activities planned focusing on students, alumni, faculty and staff. 

As much as we are proud of new buildings such as SERC and our first new academic building in 40 years (LAB)'s NOT about the bricks & mortar, but rather the living-learning experiences you have here as part of your Brockport Experience. 

Just imagine you are the classes of firsts in many regards. If you believe the most recent 100-item "Mindset List" of cultural touchstones just released by Beloit College, the Class '16: 

  • Is addicted to electronics having "grown up in cyberspace".
  • Thinks Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis & Kurt Cobain have always been dead. And now, sadly, Neil Armstrong (who first walked on the moon in 1969 when I was in college) is dead.
  • Believe women have always piloted war planes & space shuttles {and have always been BSG presidents, Sam?!}
  • And most startling, believe that M&M's have never been tan!

Yet, "Mindsets" & "Mining Data" can be a dangerous thing. Witness this trend. 

A recent article out of Cambridge, Mass. informed us that "...colleges are converting the student experience into numbers to crunch in the name of improving education". [CHE 12/12/11]. 

That is, Ivy League places like Harvard are now "mining data" to track who students are pairing with in discussion groups and to assess how they are doing on material. That's Orwellian. You know George—can you believe he wrote his futuristic 1984 back in 1949 one year before his death...and OMG I was one then?! 

But there's disagreement—even among the Ivies—as Columbia Professor Andrew Delbanco addressed the question of "What Is College Really Good For?" [AGB Trusteeship, July/Aug. 2012] 

His premise—and I agree—is that the college experience should reflect the "transformative ideal." Let me quote. 

That is: "All colleges should be places where young people discover their passions, test their talents, and learn from peers and professors to think outside their accustomed perspective." 

Speaking of learning from your peers ...Listen to the enlightening words of our speakers – Lindsey and Garrett –they're wise beyond their years and they have learned much from their Brockport experiences. You will, too! 

Much that you will learn will be as a result of our esteemed faculty. {They're the ones with the robes on today!}. 

They're bright, engaging—stars in their respective fields. And just last week at our groundbreaking, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter called our College: "A Beacon of Light". I like that...stay tuned for more beacons of light later...                    

I like such a positive image. I like it more than the mindless "Mindset Survey" stereotyping this year's class. 

I like it more than A Portrait of Today's College Student: Generation on a Tightrope—the latest book by my friend Art Levine (& Diane Dean) who wrote many years ago about the past generation of students: When Dreams & Heroes Died—subtitle: Going First Class on the Titanic. Jazzy titles, indeed! 

You may—according to their research—have on average 241 social media friends, but I do not believe for a second you will be unprepared for the real world. 

You will be prepared...if you make the most of your Brockport Experience. I hope you will. Enjoy the journey!


Last Updated 8/27/12