Class of 2011 Begins the Journey
Rare is the sight of 4,000 students all wide awake in the early morning hours, but as BU’s newest arrivals began their march to Matriculation at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, September 3, the Class of 2011 seemed raring to go.
Led by University Marshal and Associate Professor of Engineering Theo De Winter, who carried the University mace, the procession swept its way from Danielsen Hall on Beacon Street up Commonwealth Avenue, collecting new students at dorms and campus landmarks along the way and culminating at the Track and Tennis Center for the Matriculation Ceremony.
There they were greeted and seated by red-shirted student helpers as the Tanglewood Festival Brass provided the soundtrack.
When the clock struck 10, it was the faculty’s turn to process, and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore’s turn to give the welcome. Elmore (SED’87) drew laughs when introducing Reverend Robert Allan Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel, who, he said, “has taken incredible credit for all the wonderful weather we have had this weekend.”
After a brief invocation from Hill, newly elected Student Union president Adil Yunis (CAS’08) took the podium and encouraged students to build, and make the most of, their own BU networks.
“When you step out those doors this morning, I challenge you to go out and meet and connect with as many people as you can,” he said. “In the coming days and weeks, if you bump into those people in the street, introduce yourself again, strike up a conversation.”
The next address came from Sir Hans Kornberg, a College of Arts and Sciences biology professor, who likened BU, with its more than 16,000 undergraduates, plus another 10,000 faculty, staff, and graduate students, to a town. “You may feel somewhat apprehensive about being lost in such a place,” Kornberg said. “But this town of BU is not a town where you are left to find your place entirely on your own — I’ve been here 12 years, and I assure you the natives are friendly!”
Appropriately, it was President Robert A. Brown who reminded the Class of 2011 to make good choices and to find a healthy balance. “The many opportunities at Boston University, combined with the atmosphere created by culture, professional sports, and other entertainment venues in the city, give you the very best environment in the country for going to college,” he said. “Your challenge is to balance these opportunities with your studies.”
Brown urged the freshmen to make it their aim by the time they graduate to have several faculty members who know them well. He encouraged them to get involved in their professors’ scholarly activities and advised them to take advantage of the opportunities to study abroad, which are now available in 34 cities across 22 countries.
Brown told the freshman class that their generation will have to find a way to shape U.S. policies that can lead to long-term prosperity for America and for others around the world. He warned that the same world that is being brought together by transportation, communications, and open markets is being torn apart by cultural and economic differences, war and terrorism, growing demand for natural resources, and disease and illiteracy, and he urged the new students to think about what they could do to address those problems.
Before closing, Brown stressed the importance of blending liberal arts and professional styles of education and implored new students to approach their education with an open mind. “There are countless examples of people who sat through matriculation events with a focus on a specific career and for whom life has turned out richly different,” he said. “One example is my wife’s best friend, who started out to be a chemical engineer and now is a university president.”
Edward A. Brown can be reached at email@example.com.