The University last Wednesday evening celebrated the presence on campus of many of the nearly 5,000 new undergraduates at convocation ceremonies held in a very hot Hill Auditorium.
Presentations by administrators, faculty and students encouraged students to make the most of their experience here by seeking out the many opportunities the diverse community has to offerboth in and out of the classroomand warned them of some of the inevitable pitfalls of university life.
A welcoming hand on behalf of the faculty was extended by Prof. George J. Brewer, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs.
He congratulated the students on their decision to select one of the finest universities in the world. Your education is your highest responsibility, he told the students.
Noting that he had six undergraduate students working in his laboratory last year, Brewer said: There is a wealth of information here, many opportunities to work closely with faculty. Seek them out and youll be the richer for these experiences.
The Universitys expectations for members of the Class of 1999 were detailed by Vice President for Student Affairs Maureen A. Hartford. They include:
The good news/bad news was delivered by President James J. Duderstadtintroduced as The Dudewho pointed out to the students that they will be the last class to graduate in the 20th century, although some of you may make it to the 21st.
Noting that they had been selected from among some 20,000 applicants, Duderstadt told the students that they are of truly extraordinary quality, and that they all have accomplished something very special to get in.
That was the good news. The bad news: The U-M is very challenging, and succeeding here will take extra effort. The 40-hour week doesnt apply. A sense of humor and lots of perseverance will be required.
Among the words of wisdom passed along by the president:
However, the U-M does not have to be large and impersonal, the president noted, encouraging the students to immerse themselves in the life of the University and to take advantage of the many opportunities within a number of small communities on campus.
Duderstadt noted that preparing the students for a career is not the Universitys real mission. The typical college graduate will change careers many times, he said. A college education is the first step in the long road to a lifetime of learning. We have a goal of liberal learning, of stimulating the spirit, of continuing to learn.
Its OK to question why you are here, who you are, where you are going, Michigan Student Assembly President Flint J. Wainess told the students.
Its OK to explore, he said, urging them to make their residence hall rooms into electronic cottages where anything might be possible.
These are times of profound change, he noted, of a vast restructuring of the world. The peculiar task of our generation is to guide the waves of the future. These changes will take place from the Markleys and the Bursleys of the world.
It is with pleasure and trepidation I invite you to become architects of the future.
Mary L. Brake, associate professor of nuclear engineering, gave the students a rundown on things I said to seniors I wish theyd heard as freshmen. Among them:
n Major in what you are interested in. Dont succumb to pressure from teachers, parents, Aunt Millie. Change your major along the way, if necessary. If you dont like what you are studying, you wont do well. Keep your eyes open for opportunities that would exploit your talents.
n You are among the best of the best, used to getting the highest grades. This is a place with a lot of people like you, which is exciting, but can sometimes cause paranoia. Schedule your time. If you dont have time for lunch, youre studying too hard. And even if you flunk a course, its not the end of the world. We can help you. Dont despair.
n Go to class and go to your professors office hours, taking your work with you. Not everyone learns at the same rate and your teacher can sometimes have a quick, simple solution to what appears to be a massive problem. The additional personal contact also comes in handy in terms of letters of recommendation, Brake noted.
Its a joy and a pleasure to interact with you, and thats what this University is all about, Lester P. Monts told the students.
You now will always be a part of the University, part of an extended family tree, noted Monts, who is vice provost for academic and multicultural affairs.
He also urged the students to consider learning a lifelong process. You now have the opportunity to broaden your lives. Take advantage of the rich resources of the University and Ann Arbor communities. Explore your options, use your imagination and creativity.
Also appearing at the convocation were University organist Marilyn Mason, who played the prelude, processional and recessional; soloist Sarah Asplund, a May graduate of the School of Music, who sang the national anthem; and the choral group The Friars, who delighted the audience with humorously presented works.
American Sign Language interpretation was provided by Joan E. Smith.