By Katie Quaranta
As the newest members of the Ohio University community filed into the Convo for the President's Convocation Sunday afternoon, their excitement and nervous energy were palpable.
Clutching the lyrics to "Alma Mater, Ohio" -- which they were about to learn from the Singing Men of Ohio, no less -- some members of the Class of 2012 chatted with new friends about the activity-filled days since moving in while others talked about the classes they would attend today.
It was obvious all were ready to celebrate their status as full-fledged Bobcats, and an array of faculty, staff and student leaders were on hand to share encouragement and advice.
President Roderick J. McDavis greeted the class and introduced the five C's -- citizenship, civility, character, community and commitment -- as core university values that the students should embrace during their time here. As part of these values, he entreated students to get involved in the Athens community, to be respectful of others and to mindfully engage the world around them.
"I grew up with those (values), and I think it's good that he brought those up," freshman psychology major Brianna Mueller said. "I think those are really good values to have at a university."
A 1970 alumnus, McDavis also shared personal experiences from his time as a Bobcat and reminded the students that if they ever need help or encouragement, they have a strong network of support.
"We make a solid commitment of our faculty to help you achieve your full potential," he said. "If you stumble and fall, that's OK. We intend to help you achieve all your hopes and dreams, because you are the promise of Ohio University."
Student Senate Off-Campus Living Commissioner Parker Fernandez urged members of the assembled class to make the most of their time in Athens. He stressed that the students are starting their college careers with a clean slate and encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities that affords.
"What you are going to fill your slate with is an unknown, and I hope that you embrace that unknown," he said. "Open your mind to both who you are as a person and what Ohio University is as a home."
Linda Rice, associate dean for outreach and undergraduate studies in the College of Education, urged students to take personal responsibility for their academic careers by studying hard, maintaining a good attitude and striving to make sound decisions.
Armed with that advice and more, the new class streamed out of the Convocation Center behind a blaring Marching 110 and headed uptown to pass through the Alumni Gate, a tradition that marks the beginning of their college careers. But first, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl shared the history of that gate and asked students to pay attention to what it symbolizes.
"The gate is a place of transition. Your college is a place of transformation," she said. "My hope is that each time you pass through that liminal space … you will remember the vision of our founders and you will honor their request to learn, to care, to grow and to serve."
Once on the College Green, students met and interacted with representatives of some 200 campus organizations and activities at the Student Involvement Fair.
Political science major Kyle Triplett said he is excited to meet new friends and get involved on campus. He's been looking forward to becoming a Bobcat ever since his grandfather, an Ohio University alumnus, introduced him to the campus as a child.
"He took me down here to show me, and I liked it a lot," he said. "The rest is history."
This week: Watch for additional coverage of the start of the 2008-09 academic year, including a multimedia presentation that looks back at opening week activities.
To speak with a media representative about this story, contact Media Specialist Katie Quaranta at 740-593-0858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated Sept. 9, 2008, to correct photo identification.