Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 18:08
Cassius Vasquez/The Mirror
President of the University Kay Norton and her husband Tom Norton as enjoy the sunny weather during the 2012 Convocation ceremony in Cranford Park.
Cranford Park, lined with freshmen and older students alike, was the site where the 2012 academic year was to be officially started. Speakers included president of the university, the mayor of Greeley, the 2012 M. Lucile Harrison Award winner and the student body president.
Convocation is a storied tradition at the University of Northern Colorado and ushers in the new semester with the University’s president and each college’s respective dean.
As UNC President Kay Norton informed the freshmen they would participate in the 123rd academic year at UNC, she emphasized that going to college is about even more than just earning a degree.
“You are here to prepare for a successful and rewarding career and you are also preparing to make a positive difference in the world,” Norton said. “Our faculty and staff are here to support you in these goals.”
She continued by highlighting the important relationship the university has shared with its surrounding community since 1890. She then introduced her husband, and Mayor of Greeley, Tom Norton.
Tom Norton informed the incoming freshmen that they represented 10 to 15 percent of the city’s population. He expanded on a recent study conducted to find some of Greeley’s highest attributes.
“There is one other thing that small survey told me, one of the utmost important things of Greeley, Colorado is that we have the University of Northern Colorado,” he said. “And so I have dubbed that as Greeley has more Bears than any other city in Colorado.”
The 2012 M. Lucile Harrison Award recipient Stephen Mackessy was also on hand to speak. The award he received recognizes professional excellence in teaching, scholarship and service and is UNC’s top faculty honor.
Mackessy is a professor of biological sciences, and he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology form the University of California-Santa Barbara and received his Ph.D. in zoology with a biochemistry major form Washington State University.
He has been a part of UNC’s School of Biological Sciences since 1989 and teaches in all levels of courses. He gave the attendees a brief look into how his work with venom from snakes could potentially be used to fight certain types of cancer. He also urged students to be proactive and make the first step in getting to know their professors.
“Regardless of whether you’re in the sciences — as I am — humanities, performing arts, you have a very caring faculty that is really interested in working very closely with you,” Mackessy said.
He also encouraged students to travel while attending UNC, be it a semester at sea or exchange programs; he emphasized the importance to see the world.
“What I want to leave you with is, again, take charge of your education,” Mackessy said. “Put 110 percent into it. You are entering the global economy, and there are people willing to work extremely hard. You need to be one of those people.”
Shanda Crowder played the role of graduate student speaker at this year’s ceremony, as she is a third-year doctoral student working on her doctorate in school psychology and is currently president of the Graduate Student Association.
“UNC will provide you with a number of great experiences with a variety of wonderful traditions that will help you develop, personally and professionally,” Crowder said.
She drew from her own undergraduate experiences, saying if she did not take an initiative with her education, it was very easy to just feel like a number. She highlighted UNC’s small class sizes and very passionate professors.
Student body president Charlie Charbonneau, a senior sports and exercise science major, addressed the freshmen crowd by asking his fellow Student Senate members to stand and be acknowledged.
“The University of Northern Colorado is an amazing school, and that is because of the amazing people who work and go to school here,” Charbonneau said. “The relationships you build here will last far longer than your graduation day.”
He drew from his own experiences as being involved in a range of organizations such as Housing and Residential Education, UNC Student Radio, The Mirror, Greek Life and UNC athletics.
“I have found that having relationships with people on campus engages you in the University and gives you a sense of belonging in the community,” Charbonneau said.