New Student Convocation Established as Mason Tradition

Posted: August 26, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Leah Kerkman Fogarty

Last Friday, Mason faculty and staff members welcomed new students to campus at the first of what is expected to become an annual tradition: New Student Convocation.

Michael Nickens (“Doc Nix”) and his jazz parade led freshmen and transfer students with festive music to the shaded lawn between David King Hall and the Johnson Center. The students then found seats, picnic-style, on one of more than 50 blankets emblazoned with the George Mason University logo.

Assoc. Provost Rick Davis
Associate Provost Rick Davis was one of the organizers of Mason’s first New Student Convocation.

Rick Davis, associate provost for undergraduate education and a key organizer of the event, welcomed the students. In a surprising twist, rather than asking students to turn off their cell phones, he asked them to capture the moment by taking a photo using the cell phones’ built-in cameras. Several students obliged, posing for snapshots with their newfound friends. Davis requested that students e-mail the pictures to The photos will be posted at where everyone can enjoy them.

University President Alan Merten also welcomed the new students and introduced his wife, Sally.

Zack Golden and Claire Forman, Student Government president and vice president, respectively, informed the gathering of Mason’s latest distinction — being named the top up-and-coming university by U.S. News and World Report. Golden then led the new students in a rousing pep cheer.

Professor Emeritus Roger Wilkins
Robinson Professor Emeritus Roger Wilkins gave the keynote address.

Davis introduced university provost Peter Stearns by claiming, “[Stearns] has written more books than I have read.” Stearns deadpanned, “I believe it,” when he took the podium. He went on to speak about the “habits of mind” that he hoped the students would remember during their time at Mason. “We want you to feel free to question assumptions, to test your own assumptions, to think about other ways to analyze a problem.”

In the keynote address, Robinson Professor Emeritus Roger Wilkins urged students, “As you enter this university, think about it: ‘This is all about me.’” He went on to explain, “This is the last opportunity you’ll have in your life, I suspect, to be really selfish about your mind, about your spirit and about what’s going on with you. So take it; revel in it.”

Students at convocation
Students sat picnic-style on Mason blankets to hear speakers.
Photos by Evan Cantwell

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