The University Record, September 6, 1994

U celebrates students’arrival

By Mary Jo Frank

A colorful and warm welcome awaited members of the class of 1994 at the New Student Convocation last Thursday.

Flags from each of the University’s schools and colleges and dozens of bright yellow mums served as a backdrop on Hill Auditorium’s stage for the many-colored academic gowns and hoods worn by faculty and administrators for the celebration.

Among the campus leaders who welcomed the new students were President James J. Duderstadt, Vice President for Student Affairs Maureen A. Hartford, Michigan Student Assembly President Julie A. Neenan and Brian P. Coppola, lecturer in chemistry and winner of the 1994 Golden Apple Award for teaching.

“We have this convocation to welcome you to your new communities, Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan,” Hartford said. “We celebrate your presence in our lives.”

Congratulating class members for their many accomplishments prior to arriving in Ann Arbor, Duderstadt said the class of 1998 is one of the strongest academically in the history of the University.

The U-M is one of the world’s great research universities, Duderstadt said, and promised students that they will be challenged in their courses and through their extracurricular activities.

“Education at Michigan will not be a passive experience. Opportunities won’t be presented to you on a silver platter,” said Duderstadt, adding that “life is one of those do-it-yourself experiences.”

Sharing what she learned her first year at the U-M, Neenan advised students to seek help from their professors and teaching assistants early in the term if they are having problems. Peer tutoring organizations, academic services offices and group study sessions are other sources of academic help, Neenan said.

It’s easy to feel like a number, noted Neenan, who came to Michigan knowing no one. Getting involved in campus life through student groups and co-curricular activities is the key to making Michigan a much more personal and comfortable place, she said.

“Putting it all together—academic, social and co-curricular activities—will be the key to your success at the Uni-versity of Michigan,” Neenan predicted.

Coppola shared one of the secrets he said instructors often forget to tell students: “Your life will not always be a series of four-year intervals where you start over again and again.”

Somewhere at the end of “your formal education is your career; it is not an empty space waiting for you to fill, it will be that space that you define by your actions and thoughts,” Coppola said. “What you can do now is to actively develop the kind of habits that will make you a productive and happy life-long learner.”

He said, “You must begin to see education as a thing which, when done well, expands and changes your view of the world and develops your overall ‘character.’”

The University is a resource that people use to help them learn, Coppola said. “As a student, you have to take responsibility for your own learning.”

Concluding with a quote from George Bernard Shaw, “Take care to get what you like, or you will be forced to like what you get,” Coppola gave the students their first assignment:

“Begin to act on that immediately so that your future is what you want it to be.”