Students exchanged white stoles to mark the beginning of their college careers.

Students welcomed at Opening Convocation amid legacies and new traditions

In a moving ceremony that included the launch of new student traditions and a memorial to one of the University’s longtime professors, Chapman University officially opened the school year at its 2012 Opening Convocation on Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the Harold Hutton Sports Center.

The late Professor Marv Meyer, who traditionally presented the Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence during the ceremony and introduced incoming freshman to the Albert Schweitzer spirit of humanitarianism, passed away last week. He was a focus of President Jim Doti’s opening remarks. President Doti shared portions of an email he received from Meyer, director of the Schweitzer Institute and chair of the Department of Religious Studies, asking him to continue the tradition of calling on new students to remember Schweitzer’s ethics and values.

“Be assured that no one can bring that Schweitzer message to you better than Marv could have. … But if we all strive to rededicate ourselves to the spirit of Schweitzer, we will honor Marv’s memory in a way that he would have wanted us to,” Doti said.

The Schweitzer Award is the University’s highest honor for a non-profit organization. This year’s recipient was L’Arche USA, a foundation dedicated to the creation and growth of homes, programs and support networks for and with people who have intellectual disabilities.

The annual Aims of Education address, another Convocation tradition, was given by Tom Campbell, dean of the School of Law.

New traditions were also unveiled at the Convocation. One in particular was the presentation of white stoles to all the incoming students, who were encouraged to use them throughout their college careers to record important moments, even gathering the signatures of those who lend moral support and help along the way. Students were asked to stand, exchange stoles and help the one another drape the stoles over their shoulders.

“This symbolizes the interdependence and reciprocity of community,” said Jerry Price, vice chancellor and dean of students. Price called on each student to keep the stole and reflect on the symbolic lessons they carry “all your life.”

A media services highlight video of the event may be viewed on YouTube.

Dawn Bonker

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